Zvonareva digs deeps for win in Melbourne

Vera Zvonareva believes the experience she gained from last year’s grand slam final appearances came to the fore as she squeezed past Lucie Safarova at the Australian Open today.

Vera Zvonareva believes the experience she gained from last year’s grand slam final appearances came to the fore as she squeezed past Lucie Safarova at the Australian Open today.

The Russian reached the title match at both Wimbledon and US Open in 2010 before losing to Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters respectively.

But she garnered plenty of know-how along the way and put it to good use against Safarova, especially in a topsy-turvy tie-break which she won to clinch a 6-3 7-6 (11/9) triumph.

One break settled the first set but the second, after a flurry of dropped service games, went all the way.

Safarova wasted a set point at 6-5 and then again at 9-8 while, in between, Zvonareva also squandered too match point opportunities.

The key point in the breaker came at 9-9 when a Zvonareva backhand was initially called out only to be ruled in after Hawk-Eye intervened.

And there was no slip-up third time round as Zvonareva took the match to set up a fourth-round encounter against Iveta Benesova, who beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 1-6 7-5.

“I’m more experienced, more mature now,” Zvonareva said. “I think I know myself better and I know what game I want to play, and it helps me during the key points.”

Third seed Clijsters marches on although she too was pushed by France’s Alize Cornet before going through 7-6 (7/3) 6-3. She will not get a shot at revenge against Nadia Petrova though.

Petrova thrashed the Belgian here last year but could not advance past the third round today, losing 6-2 3-6 8-6 to Ekaterina Makarova.

Agnieszka Radwanska and Shuai Peng set up a last-16 encounter following wins today.

Radwanska beat Simona Halep 6-1 6-2 while Peng edged out Ayumi Morita 6-1 3-6 6-3 despite suffering cramp late in the contest.

“I was really trying to fight,” said the Chinese. “I just told myself not to think about the cramping.”

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