Indian Wells, CA – Two-time runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova was an easy first-round winner Wednesday at the $5.186 million BNP Paribas Open.
The former top-five Russian star leveled Czech Andrea Hlavackova 6-3, 6-1 in 71 minutes on the hardcourts at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
The two-time Grand Slam singles champion and former top-five star Kuznetsova, the back-to-back Indian Wells runner-up in 2007 and 2008, will face 2010 champion Jelena Jankovic in the round of 64.
American Christina McHale beat Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria by a 6-3, 6-4 margin. McHale went 0-3 in January's swing Down Under, but has gone 5-3 since.
An all-American affair Wednesday saw Mallory Burdette stifle 38-year-old Jill Craybas 6-3, 6-1.
In other action involving Americans, Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa overcame Vania King 6-7 (7-9), 6-2, 6-1, Romanian Simona Halep humbled Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-0, Spaniard Lourdes Dominguez Lino outlasted Grace Min 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 and American Maria Sanchez defeated Russian Olga Puchkova, last week's runner- up in Brazil, by a 6-3, 6-3 margin.
Additional Day-1 wins came for Swede Johanna Larsson, South African Chanelle Scheepers, Russian Ksenia Pervak, Spaniards Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino and Anabel Medina Garrigues, Belarusian Olga Govortsova, Italian Francesca Schiavone, Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko and Shahar Peer of Israel.
Victoria Azarenka beat former champion and fellow former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova in last year's final in the California desert. The two women are this week's top seeds, as current No. 1 Serena Williams is not playing at this lucrative 12-day event.
Other former Indian Wells champs in the field are former world No. 1s Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic and Jankovic, and two-time titlist Daniela Hantuchova.
All 32 seeds received byes into the second round.
This Premier Mandatory WTA event will pay its' newest champion $1 million.