Ivanovic, Stephens, Venus win Rome openers


The Sports Network

Rome, Italy (SportsNetwork.com) - Four seeded women, including No. 11 Ana Ivanovic and American Sloane Stephens, and former top-ranked star Venus Williams posted opening-round wins Monday at the $2.6 million Italian International tennis event, a clay court French Open tune-up at Foro Italico.

The former world No. 1 and former French Open champion Ivanovic whipped Italian wild card Karin Knapp 6-1, 6-1, while the 16th-seeded Stephens overcame capable Serb Bojana Jovanovski 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams moved on by vaulting past German Annika Beck 6-3, 6-1.

In other action involving seeds, No. 12 Italian favorite Flavia Pennetta handled Austrian Yvonne Meusburger 6-2, 6-3, former U.S. Open champ and former Roland Garros runner-up and 2011 Rome finalist Samantha Stosur took out No. 15 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 6-3 and former French Open champ Francesca Schiavone, of Italy, knocked out struggling No. 17 Canadian Eugenie Bouchard 6-4, 6-2.

Meanwhile, former French Open champ and two-time Rome runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova got past fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko 7-5, 6-0, Madison Keys erased fellow American Alison Riske 6-2, 6-2 and American Varvara Lepchenko pounded Chinese Peng Shuai 6-1, 6-0.

Other winners were Argentine lucky loser Paula Ormaechea, Czech qualifier Petra Cetkovska, Russian Elena Vesnina, Aussie qualifier Casey Dellacqua, Chinese Zhang Shuai, Frenchwoman and 2008 Rome runner-up Alize Cornet, and German Andrea Petkovic, who is rewarded with a second-round match against the great Serena Williams. Dellacqua's next opponent will be second-seeded Australian Open champ, former French Open winner and 2012 Rome runner- up Li Na on Tuesday.

Serena beat Victoria Azarenka in last year's finale in Rome and also titled here in 2002.

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