INDIAN WELLS (AFP) ― China’s Peng Shuai booked her second-round berth at the Indian Wells ATP Masters and WTA tournament on Wednesday with a three-set win over former champion Vera Zvonareva.
Zvonareva, a former world No. 2 who was sidelined for all of 2013 with illness and a right shoulder injury, had been seeking just her second match win since the 2012 Olympics, but was unable to make her wild card go far as she fell 4-6, 6-0, 7-5.
Peng, who last month attained the world No. 1 doubles ranking, broke Zvonareva five times in the final two sets to seal the victory in two hours and 21 minutes.
The 28-year-old next faces 18th-seeded Eugenie Bouchard of Canada.
All 32 men’s and women’s seeds in the $12 million hardcourt tournament in the California desert enjoy first-round byes.
British qualifier Heather Watson lined up a second-round meeting with second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic.
American Lauren Davis earned a meeting with third-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus ― the 2012 champion ― with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Taiwan’s Chan Yung-Jan.
Nadia Petrova, another Russian former top-five player who received a wild card into the draw as she tries to get her 2014 campaign on track, also fell at the first hurdle.
Petrova, who missed the Australian Open in the wake of her mother’s death in December in an auto accident, retired with a right lower leg injury after splitting the first two games against Spain’s Silvia Soler-Espinosa.
Soler will take on 22nd-seeded Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in the second round.
Austrian Yvonne Meusburger set a second-round meeting with another former champion, seventh seed Jelena Jankovic, after defeating Iveta Melzer 6-4, 6-2.
Japan’s Kurumi Nara, who won her first WTA title at Rio a fortnight ago, defeated U.S. qualifier Allie Kiick 6-4, 6-0 to book a meeting with sixth-seeded Romanian Simona Halep.
Australian Open champion Li Na is the top seed in the women’s draw, with defending champion Maria Sharapova, seeded fourth, drawn in the same half.
Men’s first-round action begins on Thursday, with unseeded players jockeying for position in a field headed by defending champion Rafael Nadal.
Nadal faces a tricky draw, with fifth-seeded Andy Murray in his quarter.
Seventh-seeded Roger Federer is in the same half of the draw, in the same quarter as fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, who will be playing his first tournament since beating Nadal in the Australian Open final.
The men’s draw is anchored by second-seeded Novak Djokovic.
Nadal will launch his campaign against either Czech Radek Stepanek or Uzbekistani Denis Istomin, who play Thursday.