Stevenson advances in estyle.com Classic

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The Independent Online

Alexandra Stevenson lost the first set, after being in command, but rallied to beat Silvia Talaja 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the estyle.com Classic in Manhattan Beach, California.

Alexandra Stevenson lost the first set, after being in command, but rallied to beat Silvia Talaja 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the estyle.com Classic in Manhattan Beach, California.

Stevenson, who lost to Anna Kournikova in the first round at the Acura Classic last week, needed almost two hours to advance in the tournament on Monday played at the Manhattan Country Club.

"I started pretty well, I was up 3-0, but I let her back in. I made silly mistakes," said Stevenson, who is 10-18 this year. "The first set was in my hand. I told myself, 'Buckle down, be tough, hit through the ball.' I like to win, so I'm happy with the results."

Stevenson burst onto the tennis scene last year when, at 18, she became the first woman qualifier to reach the Wimbledon semifinals.

In other first-round matches on Monday, Anne-Gaelle Sidot of France beat Japan's Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-4; Chanda Rubin breezed to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Julie Halard-Decugis of France; and Elena Dementieva of Russia beat Nathalie Dechy of France 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Sidot needed just 70 minutes to win, using blistering backhands for winners and connecting on 73 percent of her first serves.

"We had a tight practice set last week and she has improved a lot," Sidot said. "I had to move quickly because she takes the ball early."

The tournament features Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Conchita Martinez and U.S. Open champion Serena Williams as the top five seeds.

Williams, the defending champion, is the only one of the top five seeds who will play a first-round match. The first four received byes in the 32-player tournament.

Results from the $535,000 estyle.com Classic WTA Tour hard-court tournament:

Singles - First Round

Anne-Gaelle Sidot (Fr) def. Ai Sugiyama (Japan) 6-3, 6-4. Elena Dementieva (Rus) def. Nathalie Dechy (Fr) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Alexandra Stevenson (US) def. Silvija Talaja (Cro) 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Chanda Rubin (US) def. Julie Halard-Decugis (Fr) 6-2, 6-1.

Doubles - First Round

Cara Black (Zim) and Elena Likhovtseva (Rus) def. Karina Habsudova (Slovak) and Ruxandra Dragomir (Rom) 6-4, 6-2. (3) Martina Hingis (Swit) and Nathalie Tauziat (Fr) def. Conchita Martinez (Sp) and Patricia Tarabini (Arg) 6-2, 6-1; Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (Sp) and Barbara Schett (Aut) def. Amy Frazier (US) and Caroline Vis (Neth) 6-2, 6-3.

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