ROME: Fourth seed Nicole Vaidisova and 12th seed Ana Ivanovic became the latest top players to pull out of the Italian Open in Rome after succumbing to injuries, tournament organisers said yesterday.
Czech Vaidisova withdrew with a recurrence of the tendonitis that kept her out of last week's German Open in Berlin.
Serb Ivanovic, who moved up to eighth in the world rankings – her first time in the top 10 – after beating world number three Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final in Berlin, pulled out with an ankle injury.
Another leading player, 13th seed Li Na of China, also dropped out with a stomach upset.
The field at the claycourt tournament had already been weakened by the absence of several leading players.
World number two Maria Sharapova and reigning Rome champion Martina Hingis pulled out with injuries last week, while world number one Justine Henin has chosen to sit out the tournament as she prepares for the French Open, which starts on May 27.
Meanwhile, 14th seed Patty Schnyder cruised into the second round when she swept past Russian Vasilisa Bardina 6-1, 6-2.
The Swiss player, who finished runner-up at the claycourt tournament in 2005, mixed up the spin and speed of her groundstrokes to force errors from her 19-year-old opponent in a one-sided first set.
Bardina tried to hit out more aggressively at the start of the second set, but made a pair of backhand errors to drop serve in the first game as Schnyder tightened her grip on the contest.
Fifteenth seed Katarina Srebotnik of Slovakia also progressed with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Germany's Martina Mueller.
The top two seeds, Amelie Mauresmo and Svetlana Kuznetsova, are expected to play their second-round matches today.
Waiting for Mauresmo today is Australian Samantha who beat Italian Francesco Schiavone 6-3, 6-4 in the first round yesterday.
Stosur has nothing to lose against the mighty Mauresmo, winner of the Australian and Wimbledon crowns in 2006.
“I've played her a lot and never beaten her. Hopefully I can raise my level and get a first win.” – Agencies