Elena Vesnina has always liked Charleston and the Family Circle Cup, but until Wednesday she hadn't stuck around long enough to really get a good taste of the Lowcountry.
That changed with her second-round win over local favorite Patty Schnyder.
Vesnina cruised in the first set, 6-2. She then lost a tiebreaker in the second set, 6-7 (5) and survived a 7-5 third set to advance for the first time in four years.
"I was losing in the first round all the time," Vesnina said. "I really love Charleston. The first three years, I'm coming here and losing in the first round. 'What was going on?' I like the tournament. I like the green clay. Maybe I was a little unlucky, the draw, the way I was playing? Now, I'm pretty happy with my game."
Schnyder has been a fan favorite of the Family Circle Cup, having made it to the final in two of her 12 previous visits, and Vesnina was well aware of the fact.
"She's a great player, and she's been coming here how many years?" Vesnina said. "So, of course, people know her and people like her. She's a very nice girl. I didn't think about the crowd. I heard my team, my supporters who were cheering for me. I was just trying to win
this match. It doesn't matter who the people are cheering for, Patty or me."
In Wednesday's night match, fifth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, a rising star from Denmark, blitzed Russian Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-3, 6-3, at the Stadium Court to advance to the third round.
The 18-year-old Wozniacki is attempting to win on the WTA Tour for the second straight week. She took the WPS Group Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., last week, her first title this year and fourth of her career. She's 24-7 in singles this year and already has won more than $1 million since turning pro in 2005.
"I know that I have been playing good tennis the last week, and I just wanted to get out and try to do the same thing," said Wozniacki, who will face 10th-seeded Shuai Peng in the third round today. Wozniacki and Peng split two previous matches, both on hard courts.
"After winning three titles last year and winning last week, for sure it has made me believe in myself that I can do it," Wozniacki said.
Vesnina, ranked No. 57 and coming in off a semifinal appearance in the recent WTA event in Ponte Vedra, Fla., said she had plenty of opportunities to win the second-set tiebreaker.
"In the third set, I was 2-up, then down 4-2, then I have a match point on 5-4 and I lost the match point. For me, it was very, very tough mentally to keep playing, to keep fighting," Vesnina said.
"She played well. For me, I have the character that I never give up. I've won a lot of matches. It wasn't that hard to mentally stay tough. I had to focus on my game again. I never give up. I'm always fighting."
Vesnina said the match was extremely important because "Patty's a top-20 player, she was in the top 10 a few years ago."
In other singles matches Wednesday afternoon, Melanie Oudin of the U.S. def. No. 9 Aleksandra Wozniak, 7-5, 6-0; Viktoriya Kutuzova def. No. 11 Alona Bondarenko, 6-4, 7-5; No. 16 Sabine Lisicki of Germany, def. Lenka Wienerova, 6-4, 6-3; Anastasia Rodionova def. No. 12 Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-2, 6-4; Varvara Lepchenko def. Shenay Perry, 6-2, 6-3; Melinda Czink def. Vania King, 6-4, 6-2; No. 13 Virginie Razzano def. Stephanie Dubois, 6-3, 7-6 (3); No. 10 Peng Shuai (10) def. Akgul Amanmuradova, 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.
In doubles, Alexa Glatch and Perry of the U.S. def. Alona Bondarenko and Rodionova, Russia, 2-6, 6-4, 10-7 tiebreak.