France's Virgine Razzano (pictured), ranked number 58 in the world, thumped Russia's Dinara Safina, the world number two, in straight sets (6-4, 6-2) in the second round of the Dubai Open.
AFP - Dinara Safina, who upset herself with the poverty of her performance in the Australian Open final last month, followed it with one which she considered even more threadbare here on Tuesday.
The world number two from Russia was beaten 6-4, 6-2 in her opening match of the Dubai Open by Virginie Razzano, a French player ranked 56 places lower and who almost failed to qualify directly for the tournament.
Safina lost the first four games, pulled it back far enough to make Razzano serve the first set out, but then fell limply away again in the second, apparently quite unable to impose her forceful game on a middle level opponent.
"This was worse than the Melbourne final," Safina agreed. "I have been practising great and feeling good, but sometimes this just happens.
"Sometimes you are feeling good and practising great and you expect to play like that in a match, but sometimes it takes you a little while to transfer form into a match.
"When it's not your day you can't pick one thing which is wrong. You can't put any pressure on any shot - it's just one of those days."
Might it damage her confidence, she was asked.
"It has nothing to do with that - I won six and four in Australia," she retorted, referring to six wins in Melbourne and four wins in Sydney. "One match cannot bring me down."
It can however send her back to her adopted home in Monte Carlo, where she will be able to prepare and travel in good time for the more important Premier Mandatory event in Indian Wells starting on March 11.
Another French player, Marion Bartoli, the eleventh-seeded former Wimbledon finalist, had to struggle to survive, needing two and three-quarters hours to win 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-3, against Francesca Schiavone, the Italian who defeated Justine Henin, the then world number one, here last year.
There were also defeats for Urszula Radwanska, who overcame her seeded elder sister Agnieszka for the first time yesterday, but now retired with cramps, and for Sania Mirza, India's star player.
Mirza arrived at 5 am on Monday and still had enough energy to get past Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, but then looked a little jaded as she lost her second round match 7-5, 6-2 to Kaia Kanepi, the 16th seeded Estonian.
Later, Serena Williams made a shaky start and a storming finish to her first match since pulling out of last week's Paris Open semi-finals with a knee problem.
The top-seeded world number one won 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 against Sara Errani, the world number 32 from Italy, and pronounced the injury "okay."
She was also asked about her views on the Shahar Peer affair. "It's a really difficult situation to be involved in," she said. "The decision (not to give Peer a visa) was made so late, and the UAE made the decision even after the draw was made.
"I got here so late that I didn't hear about it and I was looking on line. I was shocked when I saw the decision. But I am confident that the WTA will look at it and in future make the right decision."
Asked if she had been consulted about the decision, Serena said: "Absolutely. I am on the council now. I feel like I can be an ear to women's tennis and women's sport. So I can understand the whole situation which is going on."
Date created : 2009-02-17