Dementieva begins with a win in Dubai

February 26th, 2008 - 12:54 pm ICT by admin  

DPA
Dubai, Feb 26 (DPA) Eighth seed Elena Dementieva of Russia made a successful start at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships as she defeated Swiss Patty Schnyder 7-5, 6-2. But Dementieva’s compatriot Maria Kirilenko went out in the first round 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to in-form Alona Bondarenko of the Ukraine, Australian Open doubles champion with her sister.

Russian’s Dinara Safina came good as she beat Selima Sfar of Tunisia in a straightforward 6-1, 6-3.

The event is headed by four-time champion Justine Henin, winner of the last three editions and coming to the Gulf after a title a week ago at home in Antwerp, her first in her native Belgium.

She has followed up on last year’s Dubai title, winning eight more than last season and losing in only four matches from 67 played.

Her trophy haul included a fourth Roland Garros title, with Wimbledon now in her sights as the lone major she has not won.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion begins with a bye and is sure to be watching over her shoulder for red-hot rival Maria Sharapova.

The Russian won the Doha title at the weekend, following up on her Australian Open crown from one month ago.

The 20-year-old, ranked fifth and climbing, now owns 18 career WTA titles and stands 18-7 lifetime in Tour singles finals.

She stands an unblemished 14-0 this season.

The Russian will have a few days of breathing space before tackling the Dubai field. “When you’ve got five matches in five days you can’t expect to play your best every day,” she said, hoping that will not be a problem in the oil-rich emirate.

Henin has something to prove if she meets Sharapova after losing to the Russian in their Australian Open quarterfinal in January.

The rich Dubai field counts all of the top six and other highlight entries including two-time Grand Slam winner Amelie Muaresmo, struggling with talk of retirement after her game went off the boil a year ago due to emergency appendix surgery.
DPA

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