Last year Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez made a result of her career by winning the Internazionali BNL d’Italia as an unseeded player, but this time she was not even close to repeating the feat and stumbled to a 6-0 5-7 6-4 loss to Russian Ekaterina Makarova in the first round already. On the other hand, Ana Ivanovic showed that her Roland Garros odds are not to be disregarded, with a brilliant performance against Nadia Petrova on the clay courts of Rome.
En route to the 2010 Rome title, Martinez Sanchez defeated Francesca Schiavone, who soon after won the French Open, world No.2 Caroline Wozniacki (now the world No.1), the 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic and in the final she defeated Jelena Jankovic, who had eliminated both the Williams sisters from the tournament. This time, however, Sanchez was bageled in the first set by the world No.37 Makarova, and despite recovering to take the second set, in the decider she was again blown away by the Russian..
As for Ivanovic, she actually had a retirement victory against Nadia Petrova, but the Russian decided to give up only after Ivanovic had won all the nine games they played. The Serb, sporting her beautiful pink and orange adidas Adizero dress, had one of her best performances in the recent months, hitting a flurry of winners and seven aces.
Twice Rome finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded 11th this year, fell in the opening round, but her opponent, Greta Arn of Hungary, needed three sets and two tiebreaks to defeat the Russian 3-6 7-6(4) 7-6(9). (photos: Johan Rivera, Ralf Reinecke)