Svetlana Kuznetsova, making a comeback after six months on the sidelines due to a right knee injury, took another step forward Wednesday with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Andrea Hlavackova in the opening round of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Kuznetsova, twice a Grand Slam champion and two times a runner-up in this $10 million event, did not play following Wimbledon last season due to the injury and the former world No. 2 was ranked No. 85 on January 6. She is No. 46 now thanks in large part to quarterfinal showings at Sydney, Australia, and in the Australian Open and can continue her climb with a win over No. 18 Jelena Jankovic in the second round.
In contrast to Kuznetsova, opening day wasn't a good day for the Americans. Mallory Burdette, a 22-year-old qualifier from Macon, Ga., was the only one of the quartet in action early Wednesday to advance to the second round, and she did it by beating another American, 38-year-old Jill Craybas, 6-3, 6-1.
Vania King, 24, started well by winning a first-set tiebreaker from Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain, but the Spanish Olympian rolled through the next two sets for a 6-7 (7), 6-2, 6-1 win. Lauren Davis, a 19-year-old Floridian, was a 6-2, 6-0 loser to 21-year-old Simona Halep of Romania.
Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan, No. 93, sprang the first upset of the tournament by toppling Nol. 42 Zheng Jie of China, 6-1, 6-2. Johanna Larson of Sweden, Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa and Olga Govortsova of Belarus were other first day winners.
The women's first round continues and the men's first round gets underway Thursday. All 32 seeded players in both the men's and women's fields have opening round byes.
Victoria Azarenka and Novak Djokovic are the reigning champions. Djokovic, a perfect 12-0 this year, is seeking his third straight Indian Wells title.