- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2009

MELBOURNE, Australia | Olympic silver medalist Dinara Safina reached the fourth round for the first time in seven trips to the Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Kaia Kanepi of Estonia on Friday (Thursday night EST).

The 22-year-old Russian took 4-1 leads in each set and ousted the 25th-seeded Kanepi in 66 minutes.

“There’s a first time for everything. Twice I lost in the third round,” she said. “I was like this today: ‘That is the third time. Should be the luckiest one.’

“Actually, I’m glad I won very comfortable today.”

She broke into the top 10 last year for the first time and credits having a full-time coach and trainer for the rise.

Third-seeded Safina has yet to win a Grand Slam singles title, although she reached the French Open final last year before losing to Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.

She also lost the Olympic gold medal match to fellow Russian Elena Dementieva - an outcome repeated last week in the Sydney International final.

Fellow Russians Vera Zvonareva and Nadia Petrova also are in the fourth round.

No. 7 Zvonareva beat Italy’s Sara Errani 6-4, 6-1, and No. 10 Petrova advanced when Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva retired because of back pain after losing the first set 6-1.

Safina planned to rest and return to Rod Laver Arena later to watch older brother, Marat Safin, play second-ranked Roger Federer.

“Well, I hope on center court with winning, I hope he can close the same way I win today,” she said. “I hope so.”

Safin, who beat Federer in the semifinals before winning the 2005 Australian title, looms as an obstacle to Federer’s quest to equal Pete Sampras’ 14 Grand Slam singles titles.

Eighth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina beat Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3, 7-5.

The 20-year-old del Potro, the only Argentine man still in the draw of the nine who started the tournament, won the Auckland title coming into Melbourne and is on a seven-match winning streak.

He had to retire with the injuries in the second round in his only two preview trips to the Australian Open.

No. 19 Marin Cilic of Croatia had an upset 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 11 David Ferrer of Spain.

In the biggest upset so far at the season’s first major, sixth-seeded Venus Williams lost 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 on Thursday in the second round to Carla Suarez Navarro, a 20-year-old Spaniard ranked No. 46.

“She was superconsistent and aggressive and just went for her shots,” said Williams, the reigning Wimbledon champion. “I wasn’t in control of the points.”

Williams was broken while serving for the match and dropped the last five games.

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