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Erratic Safina bows out early

SECOND seed Dinara Safina slumped out of the Dubai Championships in the second round yesterday after losing 4-6, 2-6 to Virginie Razzano of France.

Sixth seed Venus Williams was in magnificent form as she brushed aside Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-0, 6-1 while third seed Jelena Jankovic defeated Romania's Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6-2.

Thirteenth-seeded Zheng Jie of China beat Australia's Samantha Stosur 3-6, 7-5, 7-5.

Russian Safina had reached the final of both tournaments she has played this year, first in Sydney and then at the Australian Open. But she looked completely out of touch against Razzano, who was aggressive but often had to do little more than wait for Safina to lose the point.

The Russian had no consistency, hitting 12 double-faults, striking some superb winners but making careless and elementary errors.

"She played I think one of her best matches and I was not there," Safina told reporters. "I didn't give myself the chance to play. It was one of those days today and I'll just have to forget it and get ready for Indian Wells.

"I've been practising great and was feeling good. I guess sometimes it happens, you know. You're feeling good, playing great in practise and you expect to play like that in the match. But sometimes it takes time to transfer your form into the match."

Serbia's Jankovic found her opponent Niculescu difficult to adapt to, as she kept her guessing what shot she would produce.

"She's an unusual player," said Jankovic. "She plays two-handed on both sides and she comes up with those slices and some kind of dropshots. So I always had to be alert and be ready for any kind of shot. You cannot compare, but she's something like Fabrice Santoro, that style of play.

"It was difficult too because the sun was very strong and sometimes I would toss the ball and I wouldn't see it at times. But I served just enough to hold my serve, which was enough for today."

Fifth seed Vera Zvonareva dominated fellow Russian Vera Dushevina 6-0, 6-3; 10th seeded Alize Cornet of France crushed German qualifier Julia Schruff 6-1, 6-2, and 11th seeded Marion Bartoli of France defeated Francesca Schiavone 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.

Seventh-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova lost in the second round on Monday, falling to qualifier Elena Vesnina 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.

Eighth-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia advanced to the third round with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Alisa Kleybanova of Russia.


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