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Safina safe but Kuznetsova stumbles at Indian Wells

TOP seed Dinara Safina survived a tough test of her title credentials before beating Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 7-6 (8), 6-2 in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, on Friday.

The Russian saved four set points in the first-set tie-break against a determined Pironkova before easing through the second set.

World No. 50 Pironkova served for the first set at 5-4 but Safina broke straight back and then held her nerve in the tiebreak.

The second was much more straightforward and Safina clinched victory to set up a third-round meeting with 28th seed Shahar Peer of Israel, who ousted No. 10 Marion Bartoli of France 1-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Fourth seed Vera Zvonareva, No. 8 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Danish ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki also advanced, as did former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo.

But there was a shock defeat for sixth seed Sevtlana Kuznetsova as the former US Open champion was beaten 2-6, 6-4, 3-6 by Urszula Radwanska of Poland and No. 13 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland, who fell to China's Li Na 7-5, 6-2.

Mauresmo, who won her first title in two years last month in Paris, battled past German Anna-Lena Groenefeld 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in three minutes short of three hours.

"It was not a great level of play, but the main thing was done today, to win and to go through this first match, which wasn't so easy," the Frenchwoman told reporters.

"It's my first match after almost four weeks now. You want to try to get into it and get into a rhythm, which was not so great today."

None of the seeds in the men's draw were in action, with all receiving first-round byes.

It was a good day for the locals, with eight American men easing into the second round, including Sam Querrey and Taylor Dent.

Germany's Michael Berrer beat South African Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3 to set up a second-round match against world No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

Argentina's Martin Vassallo Arguello also beat a South African opponent, edging Rik de Voest 7-5, 7-6 (3) and will next face defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia, seeded third.


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