NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, AP
Fifth-seeded Martina Hingis of Switzerland beat Anna Smashnova of Israel 6-4, 6-4 Monday to advance at the Pilot Pen.
After coming out strong in the first set and going up 5-0 in the second, the former world No. 1 battled to put Smashnova away.
Hingis, contesting her second tournament since returning from ankle surgery, overcame six match points, two breaks, several missed volleys and huge exertions by Smashnova to win the match and advance to the second round at the Connecticut Tennis Center.
“I think this year I have a little match point problem,” Hingis said.
Hingis said her left ankle felt “fine.” She sat out much of this season after having the surgery to repair a damaged ligament.
Hingis said she tried to do different things to score points off Smashnova, but the Israeli kept surprising her by returning the shots.
“I had to look for the strategy of her,” Hingis said. “I realized I really had to fight and earn it.”
Hingis also struggled with her power serve — most attempts at serves above 145 kph (90 mph) landed in the net.
Still, she said she was pleased with her first-shot percentage and her ability to keep up with Smashnova, who won this year at Vienna and Canberra.
In the biggest upset of the first round, German qualifier Angelika Roesch survived some long rallies and beat No. 8 seed Elena Dementieva of Russia 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.
After losing the first set, Dementieva came out strong in the second, serving aces and capitalizing on Roesch’s errors. She lost the first three games in the third and tried to battle back.
Roesch went ahead with a solid serve, while Dementieva’s faltered. She still took time to close out the match, failing on six match points before hitting a sharp baseline shot past Dementieva for the win.
“It was not very easy to finish, and also, I was a little nervous at the end,” Roesch said.
Roesch beat Dementieva in three sets earlier this year in Berlin.
“I knew how she was playing, and I got a good rhythm against her,” Roesch said.
Also advancing was Russian qualifier Elena Bovina, a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 winner over wild card America’s Lisa Raymond.
Another wild card entrant fared better: Alexandra Stevenson of the United States beat Croatian qualifier Jelena Kostanic 6-3, 7-5.
“She’s a clay-courter, so she likes her angles. She throws up the ball and mixes it up, so she wasn’t an easy qualifier — that’s for sure,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson has struggled this year, losing in the first rounds of the French Open, Wimbledon, Stanford and San Diego.
She made it to the later rounds of Los Angeles and Montreal, and said she hoped to build on those improvement in New Haven.
“Hopefully, I’ll be great for the (U.S.) Open, so I’m right on schedule — you don’t want to peak too early,” Stevenson said. Krajicek crushes struggling Hrbaty Former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek rolled past Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty 6-1, 6-2 at the US$480,000 ATP tennis tournament here.
Krajicek is continuing his comeback after taking off almost two years to recover from an elbow injury. Two weeks ago, the unseeded Dutchman lost in the third round at Cincinnati. His best effort this season is a quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon.
Hrbaty has struggled to a 14-21 record this year and has not won consecutive matches since reaching the third round in May at Barcelona. His poor play has sent the Slovakian to the challenger circuit, where he has won one title and reached another final.
The top 16 seeds received first-round byes, including defending champion Tommy Haas of Germany.
Haas, the top seed, has reached the semifinals in two of his last three tournaments, falling to eventual champions Guillermo Canas and Greg Rusedski at Toronto and Indianapolis.
Despite being ranked a career high No. 3, Haas has yet to win a title this season. He was runner-up to Andre Agassi at the Tennis Masters Series event in Rome.
Second seed Roger Federer of Switzerland accepted a wild card entry after losing five of his last six matches.
Last year’s runner up, former world No. 1 Pete Sampras of the United States, is seeded third. Sampras has not reached the quarterfinals of an event since appearing in the final of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in May in Houston and has not won a title since Wimbledon 2000.
Sampras will open his campaign here against France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu, a 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) winner over Argentina’s Guillermo Coria on Monday.