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Sania advances to quarters at Hobart

Wild card entrant Sania, ranked 66th in the world, downed Oprandi 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-0 in the second round.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2007 23:43 IST

Sania Mirza sustained her sparkling form to move into the singles quarterfinals with a facile straight-set win over Romina Oprandi of Italy at the Moorilla International Open women's tennis tournament in Hobart, Tasmania, on Tuesday.

Wild card entrant Sania, ranked 66th in the world, downed Oprandi 6-3, 6-0 in the second round at the $145,000 hardcourt event on the WTA Tour. The 20-year old Indian had ousted world no. 29 Maria Kirilenko of Russia in the first round on Monday.

Meanwhile, Serena Williams won her second straight match in her comeback after a four-month injury layoff, beating Lucie Safarova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5).

Playing just 18 hours after her first-round win over Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden, Williams took advantage of Safarova's poor serving. The Czech double-faulted on her first serve in the third-set tiebreaker then again to give Williams a match point.

Williams, recovering from ankle and knee injuries, has not played a tournament since the U.S. Open in early September. She fell behind 4-1 in the second set before holding a break point to level at 4-4, but Safarova held on to take the set.

Williams had her service broken in the opening game of the deciding set before pulling back even at 3-3 on way to the deciding tiebreaker.

In another second-round play on Tuesday, top-seeded Anna Chakvetadze beat Russian compatriot Olga Poutchkova 7-6 (6), 7-5. Two seeded players lost in the 32-women tournament that is being used as a warmup for the Australian Open that begins next Monday in Melbourne.

Sybille Bammer of Austria beat second-seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain 6-4, 6-3 and Catalina Castano of Colombia defeated fifth-seeded Mara Santangelo of Italy 6-3, 6-2.

Seventh-seeded Zheng Jie of China beat Severine Bremond of France 6-1, 6-3.

Paes, Bhupathi move ahead

Sydney: Estranged partners Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi kicked off their campaign in style with straight set wins to reach the second round of the $436,000 Sydney International.

Paes and his Czech teammate Martin Damm downed Lukas Dlouhy and Paul Vizner 7-6 (2), 6-2, while Bhupathi and Fabrice Santoro got the better of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram 6-4, 6-3. Paes and Damm took time to settle into their rhythm and though their rivals managed to stretch the first set to tie-breaker, the Indo-Czech duo raised their game when it mattered and had no problem in staving off the challenge from their Czech rivals.


Nadal pulls out

At the Sydney International itself, French Open champion Rafael Nadal withdrew from his first-round match on Tuesday with a right groin injury.

Australia's Chris Guccione was leading 6-5 and the set was on serve when the top-seeded Nadal decided, after his second medical time-out, to retire from the match. “I will have some treatment on it Wednesday, and will hope to be 100 per cent fit for next week,” said Nadal. “The Australian Open is a priority.”

Nadal was among four retirements at the tournament on Tuesday. Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand (wrist) also pulled out on the men's side, while in the women's draw former U.S. Open champion and second-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova (respiratory virus) and No. 4 seed Nadia Petrova of Russia (abdominal strain) both quit their matches early.

Nadal, second in the world rankings behind Roger Federer, missed last year's Australian Open with a foot injury that kept him off the circuit for four months. On Tuesday against Guccione, a hard-serving left-hander, Nadal saved two break points in his first service game and then received his first medical treatment in the seventh game.

"That's unlucky for Raf at this time of year," said Guccione, commenting on Nadal's injury. "The first I saw of it was when he got the trainer out on court."

Earlier, defending champion James Blake beat Kevin Kim 6-3, 6-4. Blake needed just 46 minutes and had six aces to overpower Kim at the former 2000 Olympic complex in western Sydney.

Qualifier Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic advanced to the second round when Paradorn had to retire in the second set. Minar was ahead 6-2, 3-0.

Top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo, who received a first-round bye, beat French compatriot Tatiana Golovin 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-1 to move into the women's quarterfinals.

Mauresmo, playing for the first time Down Under since her Australian Open win last year, fought off three set points in the first before Golovin won in the tiebreaker. Jelena Jankovic, who upset fifth-seeded Martina Hingis in the first round, beat Australian Samantha Stosur 6-2, 7-6 (2). Third-seeded Kim Clijsters beat Nicole Pratt of Australia 6-1, 6-2.

Rain prevents play

Auckland: Rain prevented play on the second day of the $416,000 Heineken Open on Tuesday, washing out eight singles and four doubles matches.

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