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Page last updated at 02:01 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 03:01 UK

Safina survives first-round scare

US OPEN
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 31 August - 13 September
BBC coverage: Live text commentaries on the website from 1600 BST each day, regular updates on 5 live, full commentary on 5 live sports extra in week two, both finals on 5 live, tennis special on 5 live (3 September, 2000-2100 BST)


Dinara Safina
Safina struggled badly with her serve throughout her first-round match

Top seed Dinara Safina survived a huge scare to beat Australian world number 167 Olivia Rogowska 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-4 and reach the US Open second round.

Safina, who is still yet to win a Grand Slam title, had four set points in the first set but lost it in a tie-break.

She hit back to take the second set but struggled with her serve in the decider and had to dig deep to clinch victory.

Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva all made much easier progress.

Sharapova enjoyed a solid start on her return to Flushing Meadows after missing last year with a shoulder injury, the 2006 champion beating Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova 6-3 6-0 in the first night match under the floodlights on the Arthur Ashe Court.

"This is a Grand Slam, you've got to get going from the first match," said Sharapova. "After being gone, this is what it's all about."

Former world number one and 11th seed Ana Ivanovic saw her struggles continue with a 2-6 6-3 7-6 (9-7) defeat by Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine, after she missed a match point in the final set tie-break.

"It hurts, I can tell you that," said Ivanovic, who lost in the second round as the top seed last year. "I'm sure I will have sleepless nights.

"But I have to accept it and try to put this year behind me and try to learn from it. I'm sure next time, you know, I have no doubt I have potential now to be back in the top."

Russia's Kuznetsova, the 2004 champion, was broken early in the first set by Julia Goerges but recovered to clinch a 6-3 6-2 victory.

Fifth seed Jankovic saw off Roberta Vinci 6-2 6-3, while Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki thumped Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva 6-4 6-0.

At the French Open, I won all the matches 6-0 6-1. Did it help? Not really

Dinara Safina

Dementieva, the fourth seed, completed her match in less than an hour, crushing Camille Pin 6-1 6-2.

Safina was expected to sail through her opening match against Rogowska, who was making her US Open debut in the cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium.

But it was the more experienced Safina who appeared to be hamstrung by nerves.

606: DEBATE
We're-Gooner-Get-Ya

The Russian ended a tentative first set with a double fault, one of 11 she served in the match.

Looking to avoid becoming the first women's top seed in US Open history to lose in the first round, Safina found herself 3-0 down in the deciding set.

However, in an encounter which featured 113 unforced errors, 24 double faults and 15 breaks of serve, the world number one's battling qualities saw her through.

The top seed said she was not worried about her performance, only the result.

"At the French Open, I won all the matches 6-0 6-1. Did it help? Not really," said the 23-year-old, who lost the final at Roland Garros to Kuznetsova. "It happens like this. You pull out the match somehow."

Rogowska, who has only beaten one top-100 player in her career, had a point to take a 4-0 lead in the deciding set, and felt she should have won the match.

"I felt like I kept up with her," said the teenager.

"I didn't think she blew me off the court. I'm disappointed I lost, and I didn't expect to say that after playing the number one player in the world. It's a bit weird."



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Venus battles back from the brink
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Serena the one to beat in New York
27 Aug 09 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
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