Revitalised Stevenson sets up grudge match with Sidot

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The Independent Online

Alexandra Stevenson beat Lina Krasnoroutskaya in the first round of the DFS Classic at Edgbaston yesterday afternoon to set up a centre-court grudge match. The 20-year-old American's 6-4, 7-5 win over the French Open quarter-finalist will lead her to a second-round meeting with Anne-Gaelle Sidot, of France. The pair were involved in an unseemly war of words at Wimbledon last year amid unsubstantiated claims of racism on the practice court.

Hampered by hamstring and back problems which forced her to miss the entire clay-court season, Stevenson has slumped from a career-high No 33 to 124th, but her performance against Krasnoroutskaya, the Russian ranked 87 places higher in the world, hinted at a change in fortunes.

Stevenson came back from a break down to out-hit her opponent in the second set and then looked forward to Wimbledon, where, because of her lapsed ranking, she faced qualifying for until she was awarded a wild-card entry yesterday.

"I've been playing at 40 per cent of my capability because of my injuries, so when I am back at 100 per cent, people had better look out," she said.

Stevenson is attempting to fashion a revival in her game whilst studying a degree in art history and must complete two major papers before Wimbledon begins on 25 June.

The tournament's top seed, Nathalie Tauziat, of France, breezed into the third round with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Slovakia's Ludmila Cervanova, despite being given a code violation for audible obscenity after dropping her serve in the third game of the second set.

Britain had a fruitless day, with Hannah Collin falling 7-5, 6-4 to Austria's Sylvia Plischke, the world No 149. Lorna Woodruffe was forced to retire at 6-4, 3-0 down in her second-round match against Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn, with a torn stomach muscle.

Lucie Ahl is left to fly the Union Jack today when she plays Australian Rachel McQuillan in her second-round match, while Jelena Dokic makes her first appearance against Alicia Molik.

In Germany, Australia's Patrick Rafter defeated Daniel Vacek, of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the Gerry Weber Open, in Halle.