By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Daniela Hantuchova considers it an honor to be helping Martina Hingis restart her tennis career. After all, said the 30-year-old Slovakian, she watched the 32-year-old Swiss sensation at the top of her game.
"I respect her game," Hantuchova said after beating Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer, 6-2, 4-6, 6-0, Tuesday in a first round match of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center.
Belarus' Olga Govortsova provided the upset of the tournament, knocking off No. 2 seed Samantha Stosur, 6-2, 6-4, in the featured evening match.
Govortsova won back-to-back matches for the first time this season and reached her first quarterfinal in two years.
"Today in warmups I felt good and I tried to carry that over into the match," Govortsova said. "I knew I had to be aggressive and go for my shots."
Govortsova will meet the winner of Wednesday's second-round match between Coco Vandeweghe and fifth-seeded Sorana Cirstea.
No. 7 seed Urszula Radwanska advanced with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Christina McHale and will face Hantuchova in the second round.
Hingis, inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame earlier this month, will join Hantuchova in the doubles main draw of the Southern California Open, which gets underway on Monday at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad.
"She understands the game like no other," Hantuchova said. "Once you are a champion, you never lose that."
Hingis, who last played on the professional circuit in 2007, has won 43 WTA singles titles, five of them at Grand Slam events, and 37 WTA doubles titles, including nine Grand Slam events. She is one of five women to hold down the No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles at the same time.
"I am very much looking forward to making a return to competitive play at the Southern California Open," Hingis said in a statement. "I remember winning the singles and doubles here in 1997 and winning the singles again in 1999. This has always been one of my favorite events to play."
Hantuchova played doubles with Hingis in 2007, remembering that "I just listened to her. She told me what to do and that's what I did."
They've kept in touch and talked about the possibility of Hingis making a comeback. They're hoping to play at least five tournaments, including the U.S. Open, this summer.
"She was my idol growing up," Hantuchova said. "Why not give it a shot and have some fun on the court?"
Hantuchova certainly had fun in beating Wickmayer, whom she has beaten in all six career meetings.
"Physically she's very strong and I always enjoy the challenge from her side of the court," Hantuchova said. "She moves well, hits the ball hard and at times can serve well."
Stanford senior Nicole Gibbs, meanwhile, lost her doubles match on Tuesday. Gibbs and Vandeweghe dropped a 7-5, 6-3 decision to Asia Muhammed and Allie Will.
Gibbs continues in singles play, meeting No. 4 seed Jamie Hampton on Thursday.
Cardinal product Mallory Burdette joins with Sorana Cirstea to play doubles Wednesday night against Hantuchova and Lisa Raymond. That match will follow the featured contest between top-seed Agnieszka Radwanska and Francesca Schiavone.
In other matches, sixth-seeded American Varvana Lepchenko beat qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal 6-2, 6-4; Vandeweghe, a finalist last year, downed Romania's Monica Niculescu 6-0, 6-3; Austria's Tamira Paszek advanced when Russian qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva retired during the third set, 6-1, 6-7(4), 3-0; and Russian qualifier Vera Dushevina topped New Zealand's Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-1.