Former champ Zvonareva exits Indian Wells

Indian Wells, CA ( – Former champion Vera Zvonareva was a
first-round loser Thursday at the $5 million BNP Paribas Open in the
California desert.

Slovenian Polona Hercog drilled the two-time Grand Slam runner-up 6-1, 6-1 on
the hardcourts at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. An on-the-mend Zvonareva
captured the Indian Wells title back in 2009.

Meanwhile, Chinese Lin Zhu overcame former French Open champion Francesca
Schiavone, of Italy, 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 and Italian Roberta Vinci fought back to
beat Aussie Jarmila Gajdosova 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Also on Day 2, Kazakhstan’s Sesil Karatantcheva beat Bulgarian Tsvetana
Pironkova 7-5, 6-1; Serb Bojana Jovanovski handled Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens
6-3, 6-4; Tunisian Ons Jabeur doused Estonian Kaia Kanepi 7-5, 6-2; Russian
Yulia Putintseva erased Czech Tereza Smitkova 6-4, 6-4; and Belgian Yanina
Wickmayer defeated Italian Karin Knapp 6-1, 7-5. Wickmayer’s second-round
opponent will be former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova, while Jabeur will take on
former top-ranked star and last week’s Kuala Lumpur champ Caroline Wozniacki.

The top seeds here are world No. 1 Australian and U.S. Open champion Serena
Williams, the French Open titlist and Aussie Open runner-up Sharapova,
French Open runner-up Simona Halep, and the U.S. Open runner-up Wozniacki.
Sharapova is a two-time winner at Indian Wells, while her fellow former No. 1
Wozniacki captured the title in 2011.

The 2001 Indian Wells champ Williams will end her self-imposed exile from this
tournament and play here for the first time in 14 years.

At the 2001 BNP Paribas Open, Serena and her older sister Venus were booed by
fans who accused them of match fixing when Venus withdrew from a scheduled
semifinal match.

The 19-time major titlist Serena will open her stay against Romanian Monica

Flavia Pennetta was last year’s surprise Indian Wells champion, after
upsetting Agnieszka Radwanska in the final.

The 2015 titlist will earn $900,400.