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October 28, 2009

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Azarenka off to winning start in Doha

VICTORIA Azarenka of Belarus made a winning debut yesterday in the WTA Tour's season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, defeating Jelena Jankovic in the first round-robin group match.

Azarenka took advantage of the Serb's shaky forehand to win 6-2, 6-3 and take a step closer to the knockout rounds of the lucrative tournament.

Azarenka broke the error-prone Jankovic five times and converted her first match point with a forehand winner down the right line.

The tournament features the top eight players in the world, with four women in each group.

In France, Marc Gicquel beat Jerome Haehnel 6-1, 6-4 yesterday in an all-French match in the first round of the Lyon Grand Prix.

Gicquel, runner-up in 2006 and 2007 at the indoor hard-court tournament, served eight aces and saved the only break point he faced. He next plays either sixth-seeded Paul-Henri Mathieu of France or Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.

Michael Llodra of France defeated Lamine Ouahab of Algeria 6-1, 6-2, and Kevin Anderson of South Africa beat Simon Greul of Germany 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3).

On Monday, fourth-seeded Juan Monaco of Argentina and No. 5 Julien Benneteau of France both advanced to the second round, winning in straight sets.

Monaco beat Josselin Ouanna 6-3, 6-2, breaking his French opponent's serve six times, while Benneteau relied on his strong first serve to beat Alberto Martin of Spain 7-6 (1), 6-1.

Benneteau has never won a career singles title and was runner-up to two-time champion Robin Soderling at the indoor carpet event last year. Benneteau hit six aces against Martin and won 82 percent of points on his first serve.

"It would be great if I could go all the way and win my first title here," Benneteau said. "I'm not the favorite, there are other players who are stronger. I wasn't too far off last year."

Florent Serra of France saved all four break points he faced to beat Christophe Rochus of Belgium 6-3, 6-3 in Monday's other match.

In Vienna, Nicolas Almagro of Spain rallied to defeat Peter Luczak of Australia 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-1 on Monday in the first round of the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy.

The fifth-seeded Almagro dropped serve twice in the opening set, and saved four break points in the second.

Daniel Brands of Germany beat Robert Kendrick of the United States 7-6 (5), 7-5. He will play either top-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia or Alejandro Falla of Colombia.

Wayne Odesnik of the United States edged Czech qualifier Lukas Rosol 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (6), Victor Crivoi of Romania defeated Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3 and Frederico Gil of Portugal rallied to beat Stefan Koubek of Austria 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

In Russia, Karol Beck of Slovakia has upset third-seeded Viktor Troicki of Serbia 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4 in the first round of the St Petersburg Open. Bjorn Phau of Germany also advanced.


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