Wozniacki wins 18th straight match in New Haven

Caroline Wozniacki remains undefeated at the New Haven Open.

The four-time defending champion beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-3,

6-3 in the first round Monday, her 18th consecutive victory at the

tournament.

She first entered the event in 2008 when it was known as the

Pilot Pen.

”Everything about the tournament and around the tournament just

makes me feel at home and makes me feel like I can play well

here,” she said.

Wozniacki was broken in the opening game, but won the next five

to take control of the first set.

Makarova got another early break in the second to go up 2-0, but

Wozniacki rallied again, getting a break to tie the set 2-2,

another in the seventh game to take the lead and a third to close

the match.

The 22-year-old Dane had to play in the first round for the

first time since 2009, after being seeded third behind Agnieszka

Radwanska and Petra Kvitova.

”I think the last few years I’ve had a bit of an easier

opponent in the first round – I’ve played `Bye,” she said. ”I’m

pretty comfortable playing `Bye.’ This year, unfortunately, `Bye’

wasn’t there.”

She will face Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden in the second round.

Arvidsson beat Melanie Oudin 6-4, 6-1.

Sara Errani of Italy struggled in her second set, but rallied

for a 6-4, 7-5 win over Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The French Open

finalist and fourth seed won her first set 6-4, then rallied from a

2-5 deficit to win five consecutive games.

Mattek-Sands, still looking for her first WTA career win after

13 seasons, is ranked 216th in the world. Errani is ranked 10th and

already has won four titles this season.

Maria Kirilenko of Russia had an easier time, winning her

first-round match 6-2, 6-2 over Shahar Peer of Israel.

It was a good day for Kirilenko, who also received a car from

the Russian government as a reward for taking home the Olympic

bronze medal in London. Her mother picked up the Audi on

Monday.

”It’s difficult to start the first matches on hard court,” she

said. ”It’s different movement and different bounce and different

balls, completely different than on grass courts at the Olympic

Games and Wimbledon.”

Kirilenko advanced to a second-round match with Germany’s Mona

Barthel, who eliminated Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 7-5. It

was Hantuchova’s earliest departure in her 10 tournament

appearances in New Haven since 2001.

Playing in only the third WTA main draw of her career, reigning

NCAA champion Nicole Gibbs also won, beating fellow qualifier Alexa

Glatch 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.

Gibbs will face Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, in the

second round. The 22-year-old Kvitova is having a good hard-court

season, following up a win at the Rogers Cup with a run to the

semifinals in Cincinnati last week.

She asked for a wild-card entry at New Haven and ended up with

the second seed and a first-round bye. She said all these matches

should help her be ready for next week’s U.S. Open.

”You know you can practice forever,” she said. ”But the

matches are the important practice for the tournament.”