Peng Shuai serves up Auckland upset

Updated: January 5, 2011, 9:41 AM ET
Associated Press

AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- Peng Shuai of China rallied to stun two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round of the ASB Classic on Wednesday.

Peng, ranked No. 71, dropped the first set in 30 minutes before fighting back to win the second and recovering from an 0-3 deficit in the third to win in 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Peng had played third-seeded Kuznetsova, a former U.S. Open and French Open champion, on three previous occasions and lost each time.

Kuznetsova started strong in the deciding set, breaking Peng in the opening game and hitting an ace to begin her first service game. But her errors mounted, and she dropped serve at 3-1 and again as Peng tied the set at 5.

Peng held serve, then broke again to win on her second match point.

"I was really nervous," Peng said. "When the match started, in the first set, I was just not in the match. I just tried to fight every point.

"At first I just thought, 'Don't lose too fast.' "

Kuznetsova regretted that she wasn't able to take advantage of her opportunities.

"I was leading all the time, but when you don't take chances, the opponent will take them," she said. "She played great today, but I had so many possibilities."

Meanwhile, former No. 1 Maria Sharapova struggled on serve in windy conditions before beating Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-5.

The three-time Grand Slam winner dropped serve early in the first set and came back from 3-1 down with service breaks in the fifth, seventh and ninth games to take the set in 38 minutes.

The second set began with a series of seven straight service breaks as both players struggled in the wind. Voracova finally held to lead 5-3, but Sharapova showed tenacity to tie it at 5 and take the match in her opponent's next service game.

"With the wind, my ball toss was all over the place. That's something I'll have to work on in my next game," Sharapova said. "I played a really tough opponent today. She was very different from my first opponent, very flat and deep, and it was difficult to find my rhythm."

Sharapova described her performance as "a bit sloppy."

"It was certainly up and down," she said. "I started a little bit slow, and she had opportunities to go 4-1 first set. I was lucky I just hung in there and started playing a little better, more solid."

No. 2 seed and defending champion Yanina Wickmayer was stretched to three sets by Sabine Lisicki of Germany before winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. No. 4 seed Julia Goerges of Germany beat Alize Cornet of France 6-2, 6-4.

No. 7 seed Elena Vesnina of Russia retired in the third set of her match against Simona Halep of Romania. Halep was leading 2-6, 6-4, 4-0 when Vesnina retired, complaining of dizziness.

British qualifier Heather Watson beat No. 9 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 7-6 (5), 6-1, and Greta Arn of Hungary ousted No. 8 seed Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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