Clijsters upset by Safina at Italian Open

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Kim Clijsters lost her chance to reclaim the number one ranking on Thursday after she lost to Dinara Safina in the third round of Italian Open.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:40 IST
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Kim Clijsters lost her chance to reclaim the number one ranking on Thursday after she lost to Dinara Safina in the third round of Italian Open. The second-ranked Clijsters would have moved past Amelie Mauresmo had she won the title this week. Mauresmo was a late withdrawal because of illness. Third-ranked Nadia Petrova and number four Maria Sharapova also withdrew, leaving fifth-seeded Elena Dementieva the top player remaining in the draw. Dementieva beat Ana Lena Groenefeld of Germany 7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-1. Williams advances Former top-ranked players Venus Williams and Martina Hingis also advanced to the quarterfinals. The ninth-seeded Williams beat last year's Rome runner-up Patty Schnyder. Hingis overcame a partisan crowd and a strong second set from eighth-seeded Francesca Schiavone to win 6-0, 7-5. Williams next faces Jelena Jankovic of Serbia-Montenegro, a 7-6 (7), 6-1 winner over Katarina Srebotnik. In the same half of the draw, Hingis' next opponent will be another Italian, Flavia Pennetta. The 15th-seeded Pennetta beat Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Tough game Seventh-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova also reached the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-4 win over fellow Russian Anastasia Myskina. Clijsters had a set point at 5-4 in the second set that Safina saved with a powerful forehand winner. The Belgian had one of her nine double faults to hand Safina a break in the next game. Clijsters held to get into the tiebreaker but fell behind 5-0 with a series of baseline errors, then hit a forehand long on Safina's second match point. "I was going for my shots and missing them. I just totally lost my confidence out there. I think it was just an off day," she said. Clijsters also struggled in a three-set win over Japanese qualifier Akiko Morigami on Wednesday. Safina joyous The 16th-seeded Safina claimed her first win over Clijsters in seven tries. "I was coming onto the court a little tired after finishing my doubles match late yesterday, but I saw she wasn't hitting the ball well and I said to myself: "This is my chance and I have to go for it,''' Safina said. Safina will next face Dementieva in another all-Russian match. Hingis, who returned in January after nearly three years away from the game due to foot and ankle injuries, is still seeking her first title since coming back. She feels confident in a tournament where there have been several withdrawals. (AP)

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