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October 6, 2009

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Zhang shocks Safina, Venus departs

WORLD No. 1 Dinara Safina was upset 5-7, 6-7 by local wildcard Zhang Shuai in the second round of the US$6.6 million China Open in Beijing yesterday, leaving Serena Williams one match away from reclaiming the top spot in the rankings.

Serena just needs to beat Ekaterina Makarova in her second round match at the Olympic tennis centre to move up from the No. 2 spot after Russian Safina crumbled in the face of a fierce onslaught from the 226th ranked Zhang.

Safina, who lost her opening match at last week's Pan Pacific Open in Japan to a qualifier, made 20 unforced errors and 12 double faults in the 126-minute contest before leaving the centre court in tears.

Serena's sister Venus, the world No. 3, also had a bad day, losing to Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for the second week in a row, this time 6-3, 1-6, 4-6.

The world No. 39 refused to be awed by Williams and dominated the final two sets of the match to claim her second win over the seven-times grand slam winner after last Monday's upset in Tokyo.

"She played really well, unfortunately sometimes I made errors too soon in the play," Williams, 29, said in a brief news conference. "Twelve double faults didn't help me today, I wasn't counting those, though."

Williams had an inkling of the fight on her hands when her 18-year-old opponent took her to six deuces as she was serving for the first set.

"She started way aggressive today," Pavlyuchenkova told reporters. "She wanted to kill me, I guess."

The Russian raced through the second set, wobbled a bit losing her serve to love at 5-2 in the third, but held her nerve to serve out for the match two games later.

"I had nothing to lose," Pavlyuchenkova added. "I just tried to move her around as much as I could, just hit as hard as I could in the court and just enjoy the match."

Earlier, Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova ousted Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 7-5, 6-2 and Italy's Francesca Schiavone got an easy route to the second round when Germany's Sabine Lisicki retired in the second set due to illness.

Sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova also advanced, beating Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-2, 6-1.

Novak Djokovic shrugged off the effects of jet lag to become the first seed to reach the men's second round with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Victor Hanescu.

The Serbian ultimately justified his second seeding but struggled to impose his game on his 1.98-meter Romanian opponent throughout the absorbing, if not high quality, contest.

In other men's first round action, Spain's Tommy Robredo thrashed German Benjamin Becker 6-2, 6-1.

No. 2 Rafael Nadal and defending champion Andy Roddick start their campaigns in the men's draw today.


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