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Dokic falls, Sharapova through

ROMANIAN qualifier Ioana Raluca Olaru beat Jelena Dokic of Australia 6-4, 6-3 yesterday in the first round of the Warsaw Open.

The 106th-ranked Olaru broke twice in each set and only dropped serve once in the match at the claycourt tournament.

"A very, very poor match - probably my worst match in the last two years," Dokic said. "Really erratic and too many unforced errors."

Once ranked as high as No. 4 in 2002, Dokic's career stalled and four years later she tumbled to No. 617. But her resurgence peaked in January when she reached the Australian Open quarterfinals after entering as a wildcard. She is currently ranked No. 72.

Earlier this month, she said in an interview with an Australian magazine that her father, Damir Dokic, physically abused her earlier in her career. Dokic, who is estranged from her father, told how she fled from her family in 2002 to escape the abuse.

Damir Dokic reportedly made threats against the Australian ambassador in Serbia after the interview was published. Serbian police detained Dokic in Belgrade on May 7 about the reported threats, pending an investigation.

On Monday, Maria Sharapova played her first tour singles match in nearly 10 months, and needed nine match points to finish off Tathiana Garbin of Italy 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-3 in the first round.

First match back

"I certainly had desire to win my first match back," the Russian said. "I'm hungry, I haven't played for a while and I want it really bad and sometimes I actually have to stop myself at times and tell myself to be patient."

Sharapova, who last played a singles match in July after being sidelined with a torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder, wore a bandage on the arm but said the shoulder didn't bother her.

She cruised through the first set and grabbed a quick 4-0 lead in the second before her serve started to falter. Serving at 5-3, she wasted four match points - double faulting on two of them - and then failed to convert two more in the tie-break before netting a forehand to give the set to Garbin.

Once ranked No. 1 in the world, Sharapova's ranking has slid to No. 126 since her injury forced her to miss the last two grand slams.

In another first round match, China's Zheng Jie, the second seed, rallied to beat Olga Govortsova of Belarus, 4-6, 7-6 (0), 6-3.

In Kitzbuehel, second-seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria won 11 straight games yesterday to beat Frederico Gil of Portugal 6-3, 6-0 in the first round of the Austrian Open.

Melzer, ranked at a career-high No. 26, had trailed 1-3 in the first set. He will next play 2006 champion Agustin Calleri of Argentina.

Also, Julien Benneteau of France defeated eighth-seeded Dudi Sela of Israel 7-5, 6-1, and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain downed Mario Ancic of Croatia 6-4, 6-3.

Top-seeded Nikolay Davydenko withdrew due to a muscle injury in his left leg.


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