March 14, 2015 / 8:18 PM / in 3 years

Pennetta launches title defense with nervy win

INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Italy’s Flavia Pennetta overcame an early bout of nerves to launch her BNP Paribas Open title defence with a commanding 6-4 6-2 win over American Madison Brengle in the second round on Saturday.

Flavia Pennetta of Italy returns the ball to Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki during their women's singles tennis match at the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships February 19, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

The 33-year-old from Brindisi, best known for her doubles prowess, broke her opponent once in a tightly contested opening set and twice more in the second to wrap up victory in 75 minutes at a sun-drenched Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

“I was nervous in the beginning,” Pennetta said in a courtside interview after ending the match with a rasping forehand crosscourt winner.

”Last year here, I played so well and I have such good memories. This morning I woke up and I was a little bit shaky. So I was trying to be focused on what I had to do, and not rush.

“That was important today,” said the Italian, a winner of 10 WTA titles who had lost to Brengle in straight sets in their only previous meeting eight years ago.

Pennetta, seeded 15th this year, claimed the prestigious BNP Paribas Open crown 12 months ago by crushing Poland’s ailing Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-1 in the final.

As Radwanska struggled with a knee injury, the Italian triumphed in just over an hour in the California desert.

Pennetta will next meet either American Taylor Townsend or Australian Samantha Stosur who were scheduled to play later on Saturday.

In other matches, fifth-seeded Serb Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 champion here, hammered Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-1 while Swiss Belinda Bencic beat Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia 6-2 7-6.

Later on Saturday, Russian world number two Maria Sharapova was due to take on Belgian Yanina Wickmayer before sixth seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada faces Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka in an evening encounter.

Editing by Gene Cherry

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