Irina Falconi returns a shot to Alexandra Dulgheru during the opening round. (Darron Cummings / Associated…)
Reporting from Indian Wells, Calif. —
Irina Falconi, a 21-year-old from Atlanta, played her first-ever main draw match Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open after receiving a wild card invitation.
With the help of an injury to her opponent, Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania, who retired in the second set with a knee problem, Falconi won 4-6, 5-2, ret., then entertained with a story she had also told on a blog she writes for the WTA Tour.
Falconi, who was born in Ecuador and moved to the U.S. when she was 3, is staying at the nearby Hyatt Grand Champions resort and she made a rookie mistake. She ordered breakfast a la carte. When the bill came she was unpleasantly surprised.
“I’m not hating on the hotel,” she said Thursday. “But I’m not ordering off the menu again. I got five egg whites with avocado on each and also an oatmeal for my trainer and two coffees. Those coffees were $6 each. It was $85 dollars. Wow.”
For winning in the first round, though, Falconi did earn $7,709 so at least breakfast has been covered.
Falconi, who spent two years at Georgia Tech before turning pro two years ago, said she was surprised when Dulgheru stopped playing in the second set.
“That’s the thing,” she said. “Everybody always has a little something wrong and you try hard not to let the other person know anything. So I kept playing until she actually came up to me and said she couldn’t play any more.”
Falconi was hoping for a better start to this season after she had caused some sensation among American tennis fans last year by making it to the third round of the U.S. Open.
“But my 2012 has not been as exciting as I would have hoped for so far,” she said. “But a win, even like this, can do a lot of things.”
Falconi said that there was one downside to doing well at the Open last fall. “Right after that there was a lot more footage of me,” she said. “People could go online and see videos, see my tactics, all that stuff.”
Next up for Falconi is a second-round match against sixth-seeded Samantha Stosur of Australia. Stosur is the defending U.S. Open champion.
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