Defending Champion Advances

August 8, 2007 07:40 PM
CARSON, Calif. (AP) -- Elena Dementieva opened defense of her East West Bank Classic title with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Ekaterina Makarova on Tuesday.

"I think it was a good start,'' Dementieva said after the first-round match. "I never played against her (Makarova) and didn't know what to expect. We had a really big fight in the first set, but I easily won the second one and it's good to get some energy for (Wednesday).''

Dementieva, who beat Jelana Jankovic in last year's final, came into this event after reaching the semifinals last week at the Acura Classic. The 25-year-old Russian is seeded only ninth because a nine-week layoff due to a right rib stress fracture dropped her out of the top 10 in the WTA Tour rankings.

She was No. 8 before she got hurt in mid-February and No. 13 this week. But she said she has fully recovered and is now focusing on this month's U.S. Open.

"I think it's about getting your confidence back, playing as many matches as I can before the U.S. Open, to get the good level of the game for the big events,'' Dementieva said. "I'm just happy it's not bothering me anymore and just looking forward to finding the rhythm of the game and playing better.''

Dementieva, who won her seventh career title earlier this year, said it was a "special feeling'' to be back as a defending champion. It's no benefit from a competitive standpoint, though, because she could face No. 5 Daniela Hantuchova in the third round and top seed Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals.

No. 8 seed Dinara Safina made an unexpected exit, losing to Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-2, 7-5, in a second-round match. Safina had been a potential quarterfinal opponent for Jankovic.

Michaella Krajicek moved into the third round with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Yuliana Fedak, and will face the winner of Wednesday's Sharapova-Eleni Daniilidou match.

No. 10 seed Shahar Peer and No. 15 Katarina Srebotnik both advanced to the second round with straight set wins, as did Shaui Peng, Victoria Azarenka, Mara Santangelo and Lilia Osterloh.

Ai Sugiyama needed three sets to turn aside Camille Pin, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, and Daniilidou went three before claiming a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Arevane Rezai.