Smashnova prevails in Rome opener

Outlasts Estonian Maret Ani 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Internazionali d'Italia in Rome.

smashnova 88 (photo credit: )
smashnova 88
(photo credit: )
Anna Smashnova outlasted Estonian Maret Ani 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 in a marathon match on Monday to advance to the second round of the Internazionali d'Italia in Rome. The veteran Israeli, who climbed four rungs to 45 in the new WTA rankings released Monday, was at her best during the second set, when she allowed Ani (63) just nine points. Smashnova went up a break early in the third, but Ani broke back to remain in the match. Ultimately, Smashnova had just enough in the tank to win the crucial set and claim the victory her first ever against Ani in two hours and 32 minutes. In the next round, Smashnova will face world No. 10, Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, who had a bye in the first round. Smashnova hasn't defeated Kuznetsova since 2003. Shahar Pe'er is slated to return to action Tuesday, two days after registering her most successful day as a pro. Pe'er swept the singles and doubles titles at the Prague Open on Sunday, which saw her climb to career-best rankings on Monday. Pe'er moved up three spots to 32 in singles and went from 58 to 49 in doubles. In Rome, she is scheduled to face Vera Zvonareva (67) in the first round. The event will be among the last Pe'er plays with coach Dedi Jacob at her side. In a statement he sent out via e-mail Monday morning, Jacob announced that the upcoming French Open will be his last tournament as Pe'er's coach. "During the last six years, I've headed the staff that has been responsible to build, train, accompany and develop Shahar's career, which has accomplished so much as a junior... and in professional tennis," he wrote. "I'm proud of what I've accomplished with Shahar, especially the fact that we've managed in a relatively short period of time to get over a big hurdle and turn her from a strong junior player into a legitimate pro among the best in the world." Jacob explained the reason by adding "Shahar and her family have decided that she needs [a coach] with her every day of the year everywhere in the world, and unfortunately I cannot [do so]."