Zvonareva enjoys winning return to U.S. hard courts

By Matthew Cronin

SAN DIEGO, California (Reuters) - Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva enjoyed a successful return to hardcourt action with a 6-0 3-6 6-4 victory over Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the San Diego Open on Tuesday.

The third-seeded Russian was joined in the second round by occasional Fed Cup team mate Svetlana Kuznetsova, who upset eighth seed Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 2-6 6-1.

In other matches, fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland overcame Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa 7-5 6-3, while fifth seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta defeated Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-2 7-5.

Daniela Hantuchova caused the biggest upset of the day when the Slovakian saved two match points before edging out sixth seeded Marion Bartoli of France 3-6 7-6 6-4.

Hantuchova advances to face China's Zheng Jie, who waltzed past American Shenay Perry 6-3 6-2, while seventh seed Shahar Peer continued to heap misery on former world number one Ana Ivanovic, beating the slumping Serbian 7-6 6-3.

Playing her first match since she fell to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final last month, Zvonareva struggled to find her consistency but served much better in the third set and was able to move Cibulkova out of her comfort zone.

"I know she's a great fighter and mover so I had to play a little deeper and not let her get on top of me," Zvonareva told reporters.

"There were moments I would give myself an 'A' and there were moments I would give myself a 'D.'"


Zvonareva will next face American teenager Coco Vandeweghe, who advanced when Argentina's Gisela Dulko retired with an ankle injury while trailing 6-0 3-0.

"It's very frustrating to be where I am," said Kuznetsova, who will play Italy's Sarah Errani. "I was always a top 10 player and now I'm somewhere else. For others it's normal, but I think I belong somewhere else."

Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion, came into the tournament ranked number 60 and has lost six of her last nine matches.

The 21-year-old was reduced to tears in trying to explain her demise.

"Its very frustrating, you should see my (destroyed) racket," Ivanovic said. "I'm never able to make the step and get the momentum. It brings you down."

Peer will face Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan, who defeated Nadia Petrova of Russia 5-7 6-4 6-1. (Editing by John O'Brien)