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Safina wins opening match at Sydney

sports Updated: Jan 12, 2009 16:04 IST

AP
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Second-seeded Dinara Safina continued her tuneup for the Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Sorana Cirstea of Romania at the Sydney International on Monday.

Playing her first WTA tournament of the year after teaming with her brother, Marat Safin, to represent Russia at the Hopman Cup last week, Safina took advantage of five double faults by Cirstea to advance to the second round after the 58-minute match at Ken Rosewall Arena.

Safina said despite the score, Cirstea had pushed her to play a more aggressive game.

"She goes for the shots, so I had to avoid this," Safina said. "I had to be much more aggressive, as she is. I think I did this pretty well today."

Safina said she appreciated the pre-Grand Slam practice she was getting at the Hopman Cup and Sydney. The Australian Open begins next Monday in Melbourne.

"You have to try the things you've been working on" in the offseason, she said. "Now I've played many matches and I still feel that I can improve. I feel there is room to be more aggressive and just try to play many matches and get 100 percent in the Australian Open."

Safina has nine WTA singles victories, but the closest she's come to a Grand Slam title was losing in the final to Ana Ivanovic at the French Open last year. She also won the singles silver medal at last year's Beijing Olympics. In other matches on Monday, Alize Cornet of France beat No 7 Nadia Petrova of Russia 6-2, 6-4 and eighth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark defeated Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-2.

Cornet and Cibulkova also played at the Hopman Cup, and Cibulkova won the title with compatriot Dominik Hbraty when Slovakia beat Safin and Safina in the final.