Wed, Apr 07, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Dinara Safina to face world's top player

PROFESSIONAL TENNIS The Russian, who has beaten three top-20 players this year, is the youngest player at 17 in a field featuring seven of the world's top 10 players

AMELIA ISLAND , FLORIDAAND CASABLANCA, MOROCCO

Conchita Martinez of Spain returns to Lina Krasnoroutskaya at the Bausch & Lomb Tennis Championships at Amelia Island Plantation, Florida, Monday.

PHOTO: EPA

Dinara Safina of Russia downed Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand 6-1, 6-3 on Monday and set up a second-round match with world No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne at the Bausch & Lomb Championships.

Safina, who has beaten three top-20 players this year, is the youngest player at 17 in a high-class field, featuring seven of the world's top 10 women.

The tournament's 25th anniversary has also drawn Serena Williams and previous champions Amelie Mauresmo, Lindsay Davenport, 2003 winner Elena Dementieva and Martina Navratilova, who is playing singles for the first time in almost two years.

Henin-Hardenne returns from a two-week break to begin her clay court season, and extend her 22-1 record this year, which includes four titles and the Australian Open.

Williams, who won the Nasdaq-100 Open on Sunday beating Dementieva in the final, will make her first appearance at Amelia Island since 2000. As the No. 2 seed, she'll face a harder road than in Key Biscayne last week, when the top five ranked players were missing. After a first-round bye, Williams plays either 1998 champion Mary Pierce or Meghann Shaughnessy of the United States.

Navratilova said she decided to accept a wild card to play singles in a United States WTA event for the first time since 1994 to help her doubles game. The last time she played singles on tour was at Eastbourne in June 2002.

She has a 25-3 record at Amelia Island, including the inaugural title in 1980, plus 1984 and 1988. Navratilova, 47, meets Kristina Brandi of Puerto Rico in the first round.

No. 14 Francesca Schiavone of Italy was the first beaten seed on Monday when she failed to serve out the match at 6-1, 5-3, and was overcome by Arantxa Parra of Spain 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-0. Parra won only her fifth match this year.

Australian Open semifinalist Patty Schnyder, seeded No. 12, beat Claudine Schaul of Luxembourg 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 and set up an all-Swiss second-round match with Marie-Gayanay Mikaelian, who downed Jie Zheng of China 6-1, 2-6, 6-3.

Grand Prix SAR

Top-seeded Emilie Loit of France came back from a set down to beat Sania Mirza of India 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 Monday and advance to the second round at the Grand Prix SAR in Casablanca on Monday.

Earlier, Marta Marrero of Spain upset fifth-seeded Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 in a match almost identical to their first meeting in Casablanca 12 months ago. Back then, Marrero also won in three sets, and downed the then seventh-seeded Benesova en route to her first tour semifinals.

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