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Kuznetsova shakes off travel to beat Li in Tokyo

9/17/2008 - Tennis

TOKYO -- Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Li Na and advanced to the second round of the Pan Pacific Open on Wednesday, knocking out the Chinese player who beat her at the Olympics.


Kuznetsova, seeded fifth, beat Li 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 to move on to a second-round match against Japan's Ayumi Morita. Li had beaten Kuznetsova 7-6 (5), 6-4 in Beijing.

"I'm happy with the result," Kuznetsova said. "I've been working harder and harder since the Olympics. I'm playing better now and am getting back to my normal level."

Fourth-seeded Dinara Safina of Russia defeated Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-4.

"She's not an easy opponent," Safina said. "But I've had almost a week of practice on this surface. It's fast and it suits me. I struggled with my serve and was glad to close it out in two sets."

Kuznetsova helped Russia to a 4-0 win over Spain in the Fed Cup final on Monday and said the immediate travel to Tokyo contributed to her uneven play. She coasted in the first set but was broken by Li three times in the second set.

"I didn't have much consistency," Kuznetsova said. "It's tough coming from overseas. I lost my concentration in the second set but fortunately was able to come back and win the match."

Kuznetsova took advantage of unforced errors by Li and closed out the match with an ace.

Top-seeded Jelena Jankovic received a bye into the second round and will face Italy's Flavia Pennetta on Thursday. Fellow Serb Ana Ivanovic, who is seeded second, also received a bye and will play Russia's Nadia Petrova.

In other first-round matches, Virginie Razzano of France defeated Japan's Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-2; Petrova beat France's Aravane Rezai 7-5, 6-2; and Slovenia's Katarina Srebotnik coasted to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki.