Tennis: Obziler to play Williams
ALLON SINAI & AP , THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 5, 2008
Tzipi Obziler will face Serena Williams in the second round of the Bangalore Open on Wednesday after defeating qualifier Angelika Bachmann 6-2, 6-3 in the first round on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old Israeli (117) has never faced either of the Williams sisters before and will have to record the biggest win of her career if she's to advance any further in India.
Williams, an eight-time Grand Slam winner and former world No. 1, is currently ranked No. 11 in the world and is playing in just her second tournament of the year in Bangalore.
The 26-year-old American, who received a first round bye, hasn't played since losing to Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open six weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Chinese player Yan Zi shocked eighth-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1 in the first round on Tuesday.
Kirilenko squandered three match points in the second set and failed to convert four break points in the opening game of the deciding third set before Yan seized control.
"The second set was tough. I think Maria was tired after that, she missed a lot of strokes in the decider," Yan said.
Seventh-seeded Vera Zvonareva of Russia rallied from a set down to defeat Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in another opening round contest.
Zvonareva said she had a tough time adjusting her play.
"I had to slow myself to play consistently, my shots were not working in the beginning and her spin made me work harder," she said.
Russia's Anastasia Rodionova advanced to the second round after overcoming a stiff challenge from Chinese qualifier Sun Tiantian 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, while Agnes Szatmari of Romania hammered India's Isha Lakhani 6-2, 6-2.
In other first-round matches, Ukraine's Olga Savchuk defeated British player Katie O'Brien 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.
Chinese Peng Shuai overpowered Luxembourg's Anne Kremer 6-1, 6-2, and Croatia's Sanda Mamic carved out a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan.
Defending Channel Open champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia made quick work of wild card entry Marat Safin on Monday in his first-round match.
Second-seeded Hewitt needed 58 minutes for a 6-2, 6-1 victory in a rematch of the 2002 Australian Open final. Safin won that match for his second career Grand Slam title.
Hewitt, a three-time Chanel Open champion, also topped Safin in straight sets in last year's semifinals, 7-5, 6-1. This year's win gave Hewitt a 7-6 advantage in the all-time series.
"Marat is a tough guy to play because he has so much power," Hewitt said. "I mixed up my play a little bit and he struggled. But you never know with Marat. He can turn it on at anytime." Hewitt, ranked No. 24 in the ATP, set the tone for the match in the opening set when he broke Safin's first serve. He also broke Safin in the set-clinching game, where Safin committed a pair of double faults and an unforced error. Hewitt also broke Safin twice in the second set.
"The first round of any tournament is tough until you get your teeth into it," said Hewitt, who never had his serve broken and recorded seven aces. "I knew I had to be on my game from the start." Safin, of Russia, has seen limited activity this year with a torn ligament in his ankle and a viral infection.
A former world No. 1 and owner of a pair of Grand Slam titles, he has fallen to No. 87 in the rankings. Safin lost in the second round at the Australian Open in January and has played once since, falling in the first round last week in Memphis.
"I'm out of rhythm, so of course it's tough to play with someone like Lleyton Hewitt," said Safin, who committed 31 unforced errors.
Fourth-seeded Guillermo Canas defeated former Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the first round of the Tennis Channel Open on Monday.
Canas, playing only his second tournament of the year after left wrist tendinitis, won the first three games in taking the first set. Johansson had to rally from an early service break to force a tiebreaker in which Canas cruised. The Argentine improved to 3-0 against Johansson.
Eighth-seeded Nicolas Kiefer, the tournament finalist four years ago, beat fellow German Benjamin Becker 6-4, 6-3 in their first matchup. Kiefer showed some rust in his first appearance on tour since his brief run at the Australian Open five weeks ago in that he lost serve three times and hit six double faults, but was still too good for Becker.
Kiefer next meets American Sam Querrey, who saved a match point and needed five of his own in a dramatic tiebreaker to subdue France's Sebastien Grosjean 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (8).
In the tiebreak, Querrey missed match points at 6-3 and 7-6, saved one at 7-8 before nailing it.
"I had to serve on his match point and worked through it," Querrey said. "Then I just kind of buckled down and made a good first serve there (on his final ace). I actually caught him really clean." It was the third time this season that Querrey has been involved in a third-set tiebreaker, and he won one for the first time. "I was kind of sick of that," he said. "It felt good to get over it." Russian Evgeny Korolev, whose semifinal run here last year remains his best ATP result, beat Argentina's Sergio Roitman 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Robby Ginepri of the United States, a semifinalist twice in the past month, continued his form when he saved two break points in the final game to edge Xavier Malisse of Belgium 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.