Rezai Denies Henin, Sharapova Out Too

Justine, Maria and Venus all took the court but only one of the former No.1s survived.

Published May 09, 2010 12:00

Rezai Denies Henin, Sharapova Out Too
Aravane Rezai, Justine Henin

MADRID, Spain - It was not a good day in Madrid for former No.1s Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin, as both were ousted in their opening matches at the $4.5-million Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open.

Watch live matches from Madrid starting Monday on TennisTV!

Sharapova was the first to go, falling to Lucie Safarova, 64 63. The No.11-seeded Sharapova lost the first four games of the match before kicking into gear, evening things at 4-all; but Safarova, who had scored Top 10 wins in her last two tournaments in Stuttgart and Rome, closed out the set and wound up breaking serve late in the second set before serving out the victory.

"I started slowly. I got myself back in it and had the window, but just didn't take it," Sharapova said. "I can't look back and think of losing though, I can only learn from it and move forward. I need matches to get my instincts back. It was only a few points here and there today that could have turned things around."

"She was injured after Indian Wells and I knew it was her first tournament on clay," Safarova said. "I thought it would be a tough match but I've done really well the last few weeks, so I was really looking forward to it."

Henin had a similar slow start against Aravane Rezai, falling behind 4-1 right out of the gates; she rebounded better, winning five straight games to take the first set and getting within two games of victory at 5-all in the second set, but that's when Rezai caught fire, reeling off eight straight games for a 46 75 60 win.

"I wasn't feeling my best today. I was ill after Stuttgart. I didn't have the energy I needed," Henin said. "Aravane was playing at a very good level though. It wasn't an easy day for me. I really wanted to win this tournament."

"I was preparing to play against her. I had the right tactics and fought as hard as I could," Rezai said. "I knew I could win. It wasn't Mission Impossible. She's a great player, but I went on the court quite positive and just played my game."

Check out photos from Madrid from last year's tournament here!

At night, as No.4 seed Venus Williams beat qualifier Stefanie Voegele, 64 62. Williams was coming off the worst loss of her professional career in Rome, falling to Jelena Jankovic, 60 61 - her previous worst loss was a 61 61 defeat to Martina Hingis in the 2001 Australian Open semifinals.

"I thought Stefanie mixed up her shots well. It was a competitive match with a lot of deuces, but I felt like I served well. If I can serve like that the rest of the year I'll be all set," said Williams, who plays Vera Zvonareva next. "I've played Vera quite a few times. I expect her to bring a lot of balls back and play aggressively. We play a similar game - I hope I can execute that game better."

The only other seed in action was victorious, with No.15 seed Francesca Schiavone cruising past Alizé Cornet, a qualifier here, 62 62.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Dominika Cibulkova, Alexandra Dulgheru, Vera Dushevina and Olga Govortsova also recorded first round wins.

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