Serena sets up quarter-final with Kuznetsova
Serena Williams survived a sloppy first set to beat Ukrainian qualifier Julia Vakulenko 7-5, 6-2 for a place in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix quarter-finals.
The sixth-seeded Williams wasted an early 4-1 lead on Wednesday night as 41st-ranked Vakulenko tied at 4-4. The second set went better for her although Williams dropped serve in the opening game, as she wrapped up matters after 68 minutes on the first match point.
"She really picked up her game. I made a lot of errors. I just went a little crazy," said Williams about the first set. "But I stayed positive."
Williams, who won the Australian Open in January, needs to raise her game in the next match where she faces world number two Svetlana Kuznetsova.
But the Russian Kuznetsova was also not perfect as she took three sets to beat Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, missing several break points late in the second set before winning in two and a quarter hours.
"I didn't do my thing," Kuznetsova said about the wasted chances in the second set. "I think I was a little fresher in the third set. I knew she couldn't go like that for three sets."
In another second-round match, Tatiana Golovin of France won 10 of the last 12 games for a 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 upset over fourth-seeded Russian Anna Chakvetadze.
"I didn't play that great, but I was mentally stronger," said the world number 19 Golovin.
Serbian Ana Ivanovic, meanwhile, carried the momentum from her Sunday title in Luxembourg to Stuttgart in a 6-0, 6-2 first-round demolition of Swiss Patty Schnyder which took just 47 minutes.
"I played really good tennis," said the delighted Ivanovic, who could face Golovin in the quarters.
Ivanovic has won six of seven meetings with Golovin, including a 6-1, 6-2 rout last week in the Luxembourg quarters.
Kuznetsova and Chakvetadze had first-round byes at the $650,000 tournament featuring eight of the top 10 players. Belgian world number one Justine Henin and Jelena Jankovic of Serbia also have byes and join the action on Thursday.
In other Wednesday action, the eighth-seeded Slovak Daniela Hantuchova, a 2002 finalist, won a first-round match over Czech Lucie Safarova 6-1, 6-3.