Sports

It was Sharapova's night to shine

Defending champion Bartoli also wins first match; seeded players Peer, Wickmayer and Azarenka also advance

By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

Defending champion Marion Bartoli didn't waste much time extending her winning streak at the Bank of the West Classic.

Fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova needed a little longer to take care of business Tuesday night, needing an hour, 42 minutes to dispatch China's Jie Zheng, 6-4, 7-5.

Sharapova, in her second Bank of the West Classic, lost to Zheng in March at Indian Wells, the last time the players met. The 15th-ranked Russian was forced to the sidelines right after and missed six weeks with a right elbow injury.

Sharapova reached the quarterfinals of this event last year, losing to Venus Williams. Tuesday's win was the 15th in her past 18 matches.

She's clearly on a roll after returning from her injury.

The 14th-ranked Bartoli beat American Ashley Harkleroad, 6-1, 6-4, Tuesday morning.

The fourth-seeded Frenchwoman beat Harkleroad for the first time in three meetings, though it was their first meeting in six years.

"She played really well, especially in the second set," Bartoli said. "For someone who hasn't played that much lately, she was giving me a hard time out there."

Bartoli, who faces wildcard Ana Ivanovic in the second round Thursday night, won 81 percent of her first serve points to overwhelm Harkleroad.

"The matches Ana and I have had in the past have been really, really close," Bartoli said. "I'm definitely looking forward to it. I think this is great preparation for me if I want to do well at the U.S. Open."

Harkleroad played her second match on the WTA Tour in two years. She left the tour in 2008 to start a family and returned to action in Miami this past March.

In other first-round matches, sixth-seeded Shahar Peer of Israel beat Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova, 0-6, 6-4, 6-3; No. 7 Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium downed Taipei's Yung-Jan Chan, 6-3, 6-4; Belarus' Victoria Azarenka, the eighth seed, topped Japan's Ayumi Morita, 6-0, 6-2; qualifier Olga Savchuk of Ukraine knocked off American Jill Craybas, 6-3, 6-3; USA's Christina McHale defeated Taipei's Kai-Chen Chang, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, in a match featuring a pair of qualifiers; and Russian Maria Kirilenko beat qualifier Mirjana Lucic of Croatia, 6-1, 6-4.

Fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova meets China's Jie Zheng in Tuesday night's featured match, followed by American Melanie Oudin and Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak.

The biggest upset came in doubles when Great Britian's Sarah Borwell and Cal grad Raquel Kops-Jones beat top-seeded Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs, 6-0, 4-6, 12-10.

"We had a rough six months with a lot of ups and downs, but it feels like we are still in a state of relief after getting past this hurdle," Kops-Jones said. "Not only did we win a match, but we beat the No. 1 seed and hopefully we can build off this."

Borwell and Kops-Jones will play Stanford product Lilia Osterloh and UCLA grad Riza Zalameda in the second round.

"I think we've been coming close the last two months to having a breakthrough," Borwell said. "It's a relief at the moment to have actually done it, but we deserve it with all the hard work we have put in."

The full draw can be found at the Bank of the West Classic website.

Bank of the West Classic

Wednesday's schedule

Stadium

Olga Savchuk vs. Agnieszka Radwanska, 11 a.m.

Christina McHale vs. Samantha Stosur, to follow

Dominika Cibulkova vs. Yanina Wickmayer, to follow

Peer-Kleybanova vs. Mattek-Sands/Shaughnessy, to follow

Kimiko Date Krumm vs. Elena Dementieva, 7 p.m.

Krajicek-Oudin vs. Davenport-Huber, to follow

Court 6

Grandin-Spears vs. Chan-Zheng, 2 p.m.

Savchuk-Washington vs. Craybas-Gullickson, to follow

Court 11

(U.S. Open National Playoff)

Alina Jidkova vs. Eleanor Peters, 11 a.m.

Samantha Powers vs. Kaitlyn Christian, to follow

Brittany Augustine vs. Belinda Niu, 1 p.m.

Evangeline Repic vs. Jan Abaza, to follow

Schedule Note

The Bartoli-Ivanovic match will be played Thursday at 7 p.m.

Sharapova will play Olga Govortsova during the afternoon session on Thursday.

-- AP contributed to this report.

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