Savvy Razzano Upsets Safina in Dubai
Published February 17, 2009 12:00
DUBAI, UAE - No.2 seed Dinara Safina crashed out of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships in the second round on Tuesday, but otherwise it was a perfect day for the tournament favorites. Serena Williams had to recover from a set down, but Jelena Jankovic and Venus Williams advanced without incident, as did Elena Dementieva - whose win was the 500th of her singles career.
Before today, Safina held a 3-1 head-to-head advantage over world No.58 Virginie Razzano, with the last meeting between the pair taking place nearly three years ago. Given the Russian's progress over the past nine months, she might have been expected to glide past the Frenchwoman to the next round, but instead it was 25-year-old Razzano who produced the consummate display, capitalizing on her opponent's erratic play to register a win, 64 62.
"She played I think one of her best matches and I was not there," said Safina, who undermined a characteristic selection of winners with 12 double faults. "I didn't give myself the chance to play. It was one of those days today and I'll just have to forget it and get ready for Indian Wells.
"I've been practicing great and was feeling good," added the Russian, who reached the finals of both her previous events this year, at Sydney and the Australian Open. "I guess sometimes it happens, you know. You're feeling good, playing great in practice and you expect to play like that in the match. But sometimes it takes time to transfer your form into the match."
Although it took her a while to get the measure of Monica Niculescu's unorthodox style of play, third seed Jankovic was ultimately too strong for the young Romanian, 63 62.
"She's an unusual player," said the former world No.1. "She plays two-handed on both sides and she comes up with those slices and some kind of dropshots. So I always had to be alert and be ready for any kind of shot. You cannot compare, but she's something like Fabrice Santoro, that style of play.
"It was difficult too because the sun was very strong and sometimes I would toss the ball and I wouldn't see it at times. But I served just enough to hold my serve, which was enough for today."
Between them the Williams sisters won four formidable sets on Tuesday, the only aberration being Serena's slow start against dogged Italian Sara Errani. But the top seed hit her stride to prevail, 46 62 60, the last two sets matching the impressiveness of sixth-seeded Venus's earlier 61 61 dispatch of talented Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Likewise, Russian No.5 seed Vera Zvonareva breezed past compatriot Vera Dushevina 60 63; and 10th seed Alizé Cornet downed German qualifier Julia Schruff 61 62. But Marion Bartoli, the No.11 seed, had to work harder to get past Italy's Francesca Schiavone, 76(5) 36 63, and No.13 seed Zheng Jie was also taken to three sets, by Samantha Stosur.
Twelfth seed Dominika Cibulkova beat Tsvetana Pironkova in two tight sets; No.14 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues defeated Alona Bondarenko, 62 75; and No.16 seed Kaia Kanepi ended the hopes of Sania Mirza, 75 62. Unseeded Slovak star Daniela Hantuchova recovered from 2-5 in the first set to overcome Japanese lucky loser Ayumi Morita, 76(1) 62.
In the final match of the night, recent Paris runner-up and fourth seed Dementieva faced Austria's Sybille Bammer. After a competitive first set the Russian Olympic champion surged home, 75 62, becoming the 27th woman to reach 500 singles wins.