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Safina Starting To Sizzle

Dinara Safina's resurgence continued with a victory over Tsvetana Pironkova, sending her into the quarters in Marbella.

Published April 06, 2011 08:25

Safina Starting To Sizzle
Dinara Safina

MARBELLA, Spain - Dinara Safina continued to play much more like the former No.1 that she is rather than the player who was ranked 117th as recently as February 13. After some impressive results the past few weeks, she is up to No.81 and will surely climb higher after her experience here at the Andalucía Tennis Experience, where she is now into her first quarterfinal since Seoul last September.

Safina's 63 64 triumph on Wednesday over Tsvetana Pironkova was an upset on paper, but hardly a surprise in that she also didn't lose a set in either of her previous two meetings against the Bulgarian.

"I am very happy. I think it's the first time in a while that I have won two matches in successive days," said Safina, who has now won six of her last eight matches. "However, I could have won both sets a little easier than I did and made it a little tougher on myself by making some stupid mistakes."

Safina could next face off with No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka, who fresh off her Sony Ericsson Open title handled Arantxa Parra Santonja, 62 63, in first round action.

"I was surprised with how comfortable I felt out there. I wasn't expecting to play my best tennis today, having just gotten here from the US on Tuesday," said Azarenka, who has to beat another Spaniard, Laura Pous-Tio, to set up a clash with Safina. "I had only one practice on clay before my first round match. But I was very pleased with how I adjusted - being a little more patient on the clay. I am very happy and am looking forward to the next match."

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Also Wednesday, Svetlana Kuznetsova lost the first set for the second straight day but advanced to the quarters. The second-seeded Russian was two games from elimination in the second and third sets on Tuesday against Mona Barthel before prevailing, but this time versus Agnes Szavay had an easier time of it after her slow start, winning, 67(2) 61 62.

"The difference between today and yesterday is like day and night," said Kuznetsova, who is now 5-0 all-time against Szavay. "Today was much better. I was starting to feel the clay court better, sliding, playing with lots of spin. It was hard to adjust yesterday, but today I am closer to where I feel I should be."

Also securing quarterfinal berths were Sara Errani and Klara Zakopalova, with the Czech rallying from a 5-2 third set deficit in her 76(3) 16 76(0) defeat of Lourdes Domínguez Lino.

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