It took her over three hours, and she had to go through a lot of match points, but Dominika Cibulkova--a bundle of nerves as she tried to eliminate the 3rd seed Sunday night in the 3nd round of the BNP Paribas Open--finally defeated Vera Zvonareva 4-6, 7-6, 6-4. Cibulkova, the 25th seed, slowly built up momentum, and by the middle of the second set, she was hitting stinging groundstrokes off both sides, brushing the lines, and effectively catching Zvonareva off-guard over and over.
Zvonareva served at 15-40 at 1-3 in the third set, but Cibulkova could not break her. Again, at 2-4, the 3rd seed served at 15-40, and this time, she was broken at 30. But the Cibulkova's resolve collapsed, and she was quickly broken back when she served for the match. Zvonareva had an easy hold, hitting two consecutive aces, and Cibulkova served for the match again at 5-4. Up 40-0, Cibulkova saw the easy win melt away as she struggled to even develop her service motion. At that point, it appeared that nerves had so overtaken her that she would be broken again, but she prevailed.
Zvonareva, who won the event in 2009, wasn't the only one to go. Earlier in the week, in the 2nd round, 7th seed Li Na was dismissed by countrywoman Peng Shuai, two-time champion Daniela Hantuchova was defeated by Dinara Safina, and wild card Christina McHale upset 11th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6, 7-6.
In 3rd round play, 2nd seed Kim Clijsters, who's having a lingering problem with her shoulder, looked all out of sorts against Sara Errani, and was lucky to get out of three sets and move on. And--though she held two match points on her opponent's serve--17th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova lost to 10th seed Shahar Peer.
Defending champion and 6th seed Jelena Jankovic won her match against Julia Goerges in straight sets, and executed match point with her signature backhand down the line. Jankovic was expressive, often smiling, throughout the match, just like old times. Her next opponent will be Ana Ivanovic.
In doubles 2nd round play, 6th seeds Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko defeated Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur, and 5th seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Zheng Jie were upset by Daniela Hantuchova and Agnieszka Radwanska.