Safina Sails Into Round 2 in Stuttgart
Published April 28, 2009 12:00
STUTTGART, Germany - Tuesday was a good day for the seeds at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, not least Dinara Safina, who began her reign as the world No.1 in the best possible style. Playing her first claycourt event since finishing runner-up at Roland Garros last June, the 23-year-old Russian was untroubled by Italy's Sara Errani, 60 61.
Whereas Safina's stay on court lasted just 51 minutes, second seed Elena Dementieva had a tougher time of it against her first round opponent, 57th-ranked wildcard Anna-Lena Groenefeld. Despite losing the first set to the world No.3, the German reminded local fans why she is a former world No.14 as she took control of the match in the second set. But Olympic champion Dementieva regrouped to take the contest in the decider, 64 36 63.
Despite dropping an early break to Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic, tournament debutante Caroline Wozniacki quickly found her form. Although Benesova provided stiff resistance till the very end, the seventh-seeded Danish teen advanced in straight sets, 63 75. Eighth seed Agnieszka Radwanska prevailed in a tight first set and then grew in authority against Aleksandra Wozniak, 76(2) 60, while China's Li Na was also a two-set winner, at the expense of countrywoman Peng Shuai, 62 63.
In a star-studded field, Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova made the most of her match-up against fellow qualifier Alberta Brianti of Italy, recovering from a slow start to reach the second round, 06 64 64. Hungary's Agnes Szavay survived a difficult test from Japan's Ai Sugiyama, finally prevailing in a third set tie-break, while Gisela Dulko enjoyed a more straightforward win against Magdalena Rybarikova. The final match of the day saw Croatian qualifier Karolina Sprem push Marion Bartoli before the Frenchwoman emerged the winner, 63 26 61.
First round doubles matches were also played on Tuesday, with top seeds Liezel Huber and Cara Black breezing past Vera Dushevina and Janette Husarova, 62 63. By contrast, No.3 seeds Virginia Ruano Pascual and Zheng Jie were pushed to the limit by the Latvian-Chinese combination of Liga Dekmeijere and Peng, 26 64 107.
Defending champion Jelena Jankovic takes to the court on Wednesday, against Slovak world No.17 Dominika Cibulkova. The evening session also features Germany's own Sabine Lisicki, who required a wildcard despite her stunning title run at Charleston two weeks ago. The 19-year-old Berliner can expect a tough workout from Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder, who is making her 12th appearance at the event.
Likewise, German qualifier Andrea Petkovic, ranked No.143, has a mountain to climb against Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is seeded fifth.