Harkleroad also wins, faces Venus next

Updated: July 20, 2004, 2:22 AM ET
Associated Press

CARSON, Calif. -- Chanda Rubin came from behind in the final set Monday night for a 6-1, 1-6, 7-6 (5) victory over qualifier Marissa Irvin in the opening round of the JPMorgan Chase Open.

Rubin, who won the event two years ago, overcame a 4-1 deficit to take a 6-5 lead in the final set, then closed out the tiebreaker with an overhead on her second match point. The 28-year-old player is seeded 14th and has played sparingly this year as she recovers from a left knee inflammation.

"I definitely felt it was an important match for me to go out and try to win," Rubin said. "My knee feels like it's OK. ... I don't think I'm getting as much force, especially on some of the groundstrokes. But I'm pushing through that."

Rubin beat Lindsay Davenport in the final to win the event in 2002, when it was last played in Manhattan Beach.

Earlier, Ashley Harkleroad took another step in her comeback with a 6-3, 6-2 victory Monday over Shinobu Asagoe.

Harkleroad is trying to recapture her form after a four-month layoff caused by a torn ligament in her right elbow. The 19-year-old player dropped out of the top 100 in the rankings.

She lost her first two service games and fell behind 3-0 before winning eight games in a row to take control of the match.

"It took me a while to get a feel for the match, and then I started to play well and did the things I needed to do," Harkleroad said. "My game is coming together. I was aggressive when I needed to be."

She advanced to a second-round meeting Tuesday night with second-seeded Venus Williams.

No. 11 Francesca Schiavone, the highest seeded player in action on the opening day of the $585,000 tournament, moved into the second round with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Shenay Perry. But Akiko Morigami beat No. 12 Silvia Farina-Elia 6-2, 6-4, and Anca Barna defeated No. 13 Fabiola Zuluaga 6-1, 6-1.

Sixteen-year-old Jessica Kirkland, ranked 284th on the WTA Tour, beat 56th-ranked Tathiana Garbin 6-1, 6-3.

Another qualifier, 227th-ranked Lilia Osterloh, beat 45th-ranked Saori Obata, 7-5, 7-5. Anne Kremer, who lost in the final round of qualifying but got into the main draw when Maria Elena Camerin withdrew, capitalized on that break with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-0 win over Laura Granville.

Nathalie Dechy, Tina Pisnik, Marion Bartoli and Jelena Kostanic also advanced.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press