No.1 On The Line
Published October 04, 2009 12:00
BEIJING, China - With only one exception the seeds were perfect on Day 2 of the China Open on Sunday with Dinara Safina, Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva leading the pack with straight set first round wins.
World No.1 and top seed Safina rebounded from an opening round loss in Tokyo last week with a 64 64 win here over Roberta Vinci, a player she had far more trouble with the last time they played, during the summer hardcourt season - Vinci led 62 30 last time before Safina rallied to win in three tough sets.
"Last week was very disappointing for me, so when I finished the match today I was really happy," Safina said. "I played Vinci a month or two ago and it was a much different match. But even though I won today and am satisfied with my game, there is always room to improve, and I hope to keep doing that."
Williams, ranked and seeded No.2 this week, followed with a 75 64 win over Kaia Kanepi. For the first time in a while the No.1 ranking is up for grabs this week, with whoever does better here between Safina and Williams being projected to be on top once this $4.5-million, Premier-level tournament is done.
Other seeded winners were No.4 seed Elena Dementieva, who was down 4-2 first set but won 10 games in a row to beat Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 64 60; No.6 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who was down a break in the first set and two in the second but beat Zheng Jie in straights anyway, 76(3) 75; No.7 seed Vera Zvonareva, who beat Sorana Cirstea, 62 62; No.9 seed Victoria Azarenka, who won a Belarusian duel with Olga Govortsova, 61 63; and No.14 seed Marion Bartoli, who beat Magdalena Rybarikova, 62 46 63.
"It was a very emotional match for me. It was very nice to come back here and play on Center Court," said Dementieva, who won the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics on these courts last summer. "We had a very long rally when she was serving at 4-2 in the first set. I was able to win this point and turn the match around. It was difficult, though. She has a great serve."
"She's a tough opponent. She's improving a lot," Kuznetsova said of Zheng. "My strategy was to focus on my game, dictate the points, play more forehands and with more spin. If I wasn't attacking, I was losing."
Caroline Wozniacki, the No.5 seed, became the first big upset victim of the tournament, winning the first set and twice leading by a break in the second set before succumbing to María José Martínez Sánchez, 67(5) 76(2) 60.