Kuznetsova claims easy win at BNP Paribas tournament

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Svetlana Kuznetsova took another step forward in her comeback from a right knee injury.

Kuznetsova beat Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-1, in Wednesday's opening round of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Kuznetsova, twice a Grand Slam champion and two times a runner-up in this $10 million event, did not play following Wimbledon last season due to the injury and the former world No. 2 was ranked No. 85 on January 6. She is No. 46 now thanks in large part to quarterfinal showings at Sydney, Australia, and in the Australian Open and can continue her climb with a win over No. 18 Jelena Jankovic in the second round.

Vania King, 24, started well by winning a first-set tiebreaker from Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain, but the Spanish Olympian rolled through the next two sets for a 6-7 (7), 6-2, 6-1 win. Lauren Davis, a 19-year-old Floridian, was a 6-2, 6-0 loser to 21-year-old Simona Halep of Romania.

Francesca Schiavone of Italy, the 2010 French Open champion, also moved into the second round with a 7-5, 6-1 win over countrywoman Flavia Pennetta and will take on No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova next.

Opening day was a mixed bag for the Americans in action. Wild card Maria Sanchez, a former University of Southern California star who is working with Chris Evert, was a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Olga Puchkova of Russia and Mallory Burdette, a 22-year-old qualifier from Macon, Ga., toppled another American, 38-year-old Jill Craybas, 6-3, 6-1. Vania King, 24, started well by winning a first-set tiebreaker from Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain, but the Spanish Olympian rolled through the next two sets for a 6-7 (7), 6-2, 6-1 win.

Victoria Azarenka and Novak Djokovic are the reigning champions. Djokovic, a perfect 12-0 this year, is seeking his third straight Indian Wells title.


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