Qualifiers Conquer Top 10 Stars

A trio of qualifiers stunned Dinara Safina, Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova Monday.

Published September 28, 2009 12:00


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TOKYO, Japan - World No.1 Dinara Safina didn't have a great ending to the summer season and on Monday started off her fall campaign in the same way, losing her Toray Pan Pacific Open opener to qualifier Chang Kai-Chen in a dramatic three-setter on Center Court.  Tokyo: Monday Highlights

Safina, the top seed and defending champion at the Premier-level tournament, was not on her A-game by any means but was also kept on her back foot for most of the match by the gritty Chang. The No.132-ranked teenager pummelled her two-fisted groundstrokes deep and hard throughout the match, earning particular success by picking on the Safina forehand. The Russian led 5-3 third set but that side broke down right at the finish line, including hitting one last error on match point. Chang collected her biggest ever win, 76(5) 46 75.

Safina has now lost four of her last six matches. In her most recent appearance, she reached the third round of the US Open before falling to Petra Kvitova. The last time a reigning world No.1 lost to someone outside the Top 100 came at last year's US Open, when Ana Ivanovic lost to then-No.188 Julie Coin.

Chang is playing in the fourth Sony Ericsson WTA Tour main draw of her young career, her first three coming all in the last month, reaching the second round of the US Open, falling first round at Guangzhou and reaching another second round at Seoul. This is her best result yet, as she enters the third round now.

Safina wasn't the only big name to fall to a qualifier. No.5 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova lost out to Andrea Petkovic in the next match on Center Court, 75 46 63, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova upset No.2 seed Venus Williams in the night match, 76(6) 75. Both Chang and Petkovic collected their first career Top 10 wins on Monday, against last year's Tokyo finalists (Safina beat Kuznetsova in the final here a year ago). Pavlyuchenkova earned her third Top 10 win, having collected her first two during a breakthrough two weeks at Indian Wells earlier this year.  Highlights: Pavlyuchenkova vs. V.Williams

First round winners were No.11 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, No.12 seed Samantha Stosur, No.13 seed Nadia Petrova, No.14 seed Marion Bartoli, Iveta BenesovaDaniela Hantuchova, Maria SharapovaZheng Jie, Aleksandra WozniakVera Dushevina, Magdalena Rybarikova, Peng Shuai and qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko.

Petrova's win came against Ai Sugiyama, who retired due to illness in the last singles match of her career. She is still alive in the doubles competition, partnering Hantuchova. Wozniak battled back from 75 52 down to beat Kimiko Date Krumm, 57 76(2) 64. Date Krumm was celebrating her 39th birthday one day after winning the first Tour title of her comeback in Seoul. Elsewhere, Sharapova, a champion here in 2005, rallied from 64 42 down to beat Francesca Schiavone, 46 75 61.  Highlights: Sharapova vs. Schiavone

"I lost today, but I had a great week in Seoul and today is my birthday so I'm still happy," Date Krumm said. "Aleksandra played a good match today. She did well to come back."  Highlights: Wozniak vs. Date Krumm

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