China Open: Dulko, Safina move to next round

Dinara Safina found herself up against local favourite Yan Zi in the opening round of the China Open in Beijing on Monday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:09 IST
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Beijing:Less than 24 hours after brother Marat won the men's crown, his first ATP Tour title in two years, Dinara Safina found herself up against local favourite Yan Zi in the opening round of the China Open in Beijing on Monday. Despite going an early break of serve down, Safina stormed back to take control of the first set with some powerful groundstrokes. She broke back immediately to level the set at 2-2, before pushing on to clinch the opener, courtesy of another break. Yan had no answer to her opponent's power and found herself a set down, 6-3, when she pushed a forehand wide in the ninth game. Finding rhythm The second set went much the way of the first, with Yan struggling to find any rhythm in the face of some relentless power tennis from Safina. The end came quickly, with Safina winning in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2 in just an hour and 14 minutes. Next up for Safina will be a second round showdown with top seed Serena Williams. In other first round action, Venezuela's Maria Vento-Kabchi faced Italian Flavia Pennetta. Vento-Kabchi was looking to bounce back from her first round loss in Bali last week, and did that with a straight sets win. The score, 7-6, 6-4. Easy ride Russia's Tatiana Panova was given an easy ride into the second round when her match against Slovenia's Tina Pisnik lasted just one set. Panova was in control from the start and comfortably won the first set 6-0. But, during the break between sets, Pisnik called for the trainer and was eventually forced to retire from the match due to a strained neck muscle. Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues took on Japan's Saori Obata in the opening round. The first set was closely fought with Medina Garrigues taking time to get to grips with her left-handed opponent's game. But the Spaniard eventually found her range and clinched the opening set 7-5 with a sweetly-struck forehand. Medina Garrigues was more dominant in the second set, securing a couple of breaks of the Obata serve. Obata eventually succumbed in straight sets, 7-5, 6-2 when she put a backhand into the net on match point. Accurate groundstrokes The only seeded player in action on Monday was sixth seed Gisela Dulko. The Argentine was up against Hungary's Aniko Kapros. Dulko was on the offensive early on, taking advantage of her opponent's weak serve, and the first set went the way of the seeded player, 6-4. Dulko continued to put Kapros's serve under pressure with her accurate ground strokes, and with the Hungarian player struggling to find her range, it was a matter of the time before the sixth seed broke serve. That she achieved convincingly in the second set, before serving out for a 6-4, 6-1 victory. In the second round, Dulko will take on Vento-Kabchi. The inaugural China Open also features Wimbledon champion Mara Sharapova and US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who both received first round byes. (AP)

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