Cincinnatti :Maria Sharapova survived a second-set lapse and delivered a dominant third set to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 in the first round of the Cincinnati Women's Open.
While Kuznetsova's triumph in San Diego on Sunday pushed her ranking to 14, one higher than Sharapova, her fellow Russian had a 31-11 edge in winners to overcome 39 unforced errors to win in her Cincinnati debut.
Sharapova reached the second round, while top seed and defending champion Jelena Jankovic of Serbia followed her on court and booked a third-round berth with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Russian Vera Dushevina yesterday.
Kuznetsova received treatment from a trainer on her back and left knee, and left the court briefly after three games of the third set for treatment.
She was unable to convert eight of her 10 break point opportunities.
"It's definitely tough to have a night flight then come and play the day after a final, but it's just bad luck, I cannot change it," Kuznetsova said. "I just need to get my ranking higher and then I can get a bye. But I also have to give a lot of credit to Maria. She played really well in the third."
Sharapova said she didn't press hard enough once she had pocketed the opening set.
"I let her off the hook in the beginning of the second set, and she went with it. Against a player with a lot of experience, you can't do that," Sharapova said. "I had to earn it. The only way I was going to win was by being aggressive."
In other second-round action, Akgul Amanmuradova advanced 6-2, 6-0 win over Bojana Jovanovski.
Sixteenth-seeded Marion Bartoli also reached the third round, beating Alona Bondarenko 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.
Fifteenth-seeded Nadia Petrova tumbled out of the two million-dollar event, retiring with heat-related symptoms while trailing Christina McHale.
America's McHale had won the first set 7-6 (7/4) and was up 5-3 in the second when the 21st-ranked Russian called it quits.
She became the second player to retire because of the steamy conditions. Olga Govortsova retired against 13th-seeded Shahar Peer on Monday.
"I'm not really sure what happened," said McHale, whose biggest career win came at Charleston in April when then-number nine Victoria Azarenka retired from their match.
"I know she called the trainer, but I wasn't sure what she called the trainer for. I didn't try to focus too much on that. I'm just excited to move on to the next round."