Down to 16 in Los Angeles
Published August 05, 2009 11:59
LOS ANGELES, CA, USA - World No.1 Dinara Safina made an impressive start to her LA Women's Tennis Championships title defense on Wednesday, dispatching one of her nemeses for the third straight time to reach the last 16.
Safina was 2-3 against Daniela Hantuchova before this season but after wins at Stuttgart in the spring and 's-Hertogenbosch in the summer she improved to 4-3, and on Wednesday in Los Angeles she became 5-3 with a 62 64 victory. Safina lost her serve twice - both games going to deuce at least once - but she broke her Slovak opponent a total of five times en route to the win.
"It was a good match for my first match back here in America. I didn't do anything spectacular, but I was solid," Safina said. "Daniela is a dangerous player. I knew what I had to do. I had to be aggressive - there's no other way."
It was a strong showing from seeds in the daytime as the second round ended, as No.5 seed Nadia Petrova, No.8 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, No.10 seed Flavia Pennetta, No.12 seed Li Na, No.13 seed Samantha Stosur and No.14 seed Zheng Jie all advanced. The only seed to go before nightfall was No.7 seed Dominika Cibulkova, who lost to Urszula Radwanska, 64 67(6) 64.
Pennetta, who lost to Safina in last year's final, beat young wildcard Coco Vandeweghe, 62 64, and reminisced about her runner-up result from last year afterwards: "I like this tournament a lot. Last year was the first time I won two matches in a row here. I've been coming here for so many years and before that I had never done that, but everything has changed now. I feel comfortable here."
Petrova had a tight three-setter with Shahar Peer, edging the former Top 15 player in three sets, 64 26 63: "I'm happy I won today, but I need to do a better job staying focused. I need to work one point at a time and finish off the match as soon as possible. I'm happy I was able to come away with the win today."
The night session began with Maria Sharapova rallying back to beat No.3 seed Victoria Azarenka, 67(4) 64 62, the Russian's second Top 10 win since rejoining the Tour in May, after a win over Petrova in Stanford last week.
"I had so many chances to win the first set, but I was able to win the second set and play a solid third," Sharapova said. "I knew going into this match I was going to have to dig deep and hang tough to stay in there. I learned a great deal, and I've given myself another chance to play tomorrow. I have a lot of support here in Los Angeles and it feels like home."
"Maria is a great player," a gracious Azarenka commented. "She still has her game. It doesn't matter that she was out for almost a year."
In the last match of the night, Sorana Cirstea upset No.4 seed Caroline Wozniacki, 16 64 76(5), despite being down a break in the second and third sets. Cirstea's win over the world No.8 was her fourth Top 10 win, after wins over Chakvetadze last year and Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic earlier this year.
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