September 1, 2009

Safina rallies to avoid U.S. Open upset

Top-ranked Dinara Safina overcame a shaky start Tuesday to win her first-round match against Australian teenager Olivia Rogowska in the U.S. Open.

The heavily favored Russian dropped the first set 6-7 (5-7) before rebounding to grab the next two sets 6-2, 6-4.

Rogowska stuck around for 2 hours, 35 minutes while Safina committed 11 double faults and 48 unforced errors. The Aussie teen double-faulted 13 times, made 65 unforced errors and had her serve broken nine times.

Safina, who was the runner-up in the French and Australian opens, fell behind 0-3 in that first set at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at Flushing, N.Y., but avoided becoming the first top-seeded woman to lose in the first round here in the Open Era (1968).

In other action involving seeded players, French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded sixth, breezed by German Julia Gorges 6-3, 6-2; ninth-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki eliminated Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva 6-4, 6-0; No. 13 Russian Nadia Petrova defeated Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik 6-3, 6-3; Belgian Yanina Wickmayer downed No. 16 Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano 6-4, 6-3; 19th-seeded Swiss Patty Schnyder beat Czech Lucie Safarova 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6); 23rd-seeded German Sabine Lisicki out-dueled France's Aravane Rezai 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (4-7), 6-1; No. 24 Romanian Sorana Cirstea zipped by Japan's Ayumi Morita 6-1, 6-3; and 30th-seeded Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko beat Russian Alla Kudryavtseva 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Other winners were Melanie Oudin, Gisela Dulko, Tathiana Garbin, Anastasija Sevastova, Anastasia Rodionova, Stephanie Dubois, Sara Errani, Peng Shuai and Petra Martic.

The 2009 U.S. Open champion will earn a payday of at least $1.6 million.