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Russians on track in Charleston

ELENA Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva and Nadia Petrova won at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, on Tuesday, increasing the odds that at least one of the leading Russian seeds should reach the final again.

Top seed Dementieva won the first 10 games in beating Julie Ditty of the United States 6-0, 6-2; No. 3 Vera Zvonareva beat Rossana de los Rios of Paraguay 6-3, 6-2; and No. 4 Petrova overcame a mid-match stumble to beat Patricia Mayr of Austria 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.

All three Russians have been in the final; Dementieva was runner-up in 2005, Petrova won in 2006, and Zvonareva lost in last year's final to Serena Williams, who has withdrawn from this year's event because of a leg injury.

Dementieva was appearing for the first time since she climbed to a career-high world No. 3 ranking, while Zvonareva improved her record this year to 20-3 but made a sloppy start to her clay season by dropping serve four times.

Also through the second round after first-round byes were No. 6 Marion Bartoli, who has never gone any further, and No. 7 Dominika Cibulkova, for the first time.

Bartoli defeated Latvian qualifier Anastasija Sevastova 6-1, 6-3, and Cibulkova downed Tamira Paszek of Austria 6-4, 6-0.

Ninth seed Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada, runner-up at Ponte Vedra Beach on Sunday, won her opener when she rallied past Abigail Spears of the US 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.

Sania Mirza of India ended a three-match losing streak in beating Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan 6-4, 6-4, and bought a second-round match with 2004 champion Venus Williams. Russian Alla Kudryavtseva's second win of the year, at the expense of American Angela Haynes 6-4, 5-7, 6-0, put her into a matchup with fifth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, the Ponte Vedra Beach champ.


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