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Safina puts halt to early round exits

- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 3, 2010

CARLSBAD, CALIF. (AP) - Former No. 1-ranked Dinara Safina put an end to a series of early round exits with a 6-1, 7-6 (2) victory over Alona Bondarenko on Monday night at the Mercury Insurance Open.

Safina, who lost her first match in four tournaments this season, ran away with the first set before she jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the second-set tiebreaker to defeat her Ukrainian opponent.

Safina, a first-round loser last week in the Bank of the West Classic, has been riddled by a lower back injury that has limited her play. The three-time Grand Slam finalist has only a 6-8 record this season.

The Russian, whose ranking has dropped to No. 35, has advanced as far as the quarterfinals only twice this year.

In other first-round matches, Alisa Kleybanova of Russia beat France's Aravane Rezai 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 and Italy's Sara Errani defeated Olga Govortsova of Russia 6-3, 1-6, 7-5.

In a match of unseeded players, Kleybanova easily won the first set before her French opponent broke serve at 5-all, then served out the second set. After the pair traded service breaks early in the final set, she broke Rezai twice more en route to the win.

Kleybanova next faces top-seeded Jelena Jankovic in a second-round match.

The tournament, which had been held in the San Diego area for 24 years, returned after a three-year absence.

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