The Olympic champion Elena Dementieva survived a stern test to beat the little-known Taiwanese player Chan Yung-jan 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the Auckland Classic. The top-seeded Dementieva was in danger of being humiliated by a player ranked 69 places below her when she was down 5-1 in the opening set as her serve badly let her down.
But the Russian world No 4 showed her pedigree to battle back and win the next six games to take the first set. From then on there was no stopping her as she clinched her first win of the season as she confidentally claimed the second set. "It was a tough match," Dementieva said. "She was on fire at the beginning and put a lot of pressure on me. "I didn't expect such a high level and it took me a while to get into the game."
Things are unlikely to get easier for Dementieva, 27, when they play today in the second round as she will have to deal with a partisan crowd against the local favourite Marina Erakovic. The promising New Zealander ended an eight-match losing streak to secure a comfortable straight sets 7-5, 6-4 win over Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain. Meanwhile, the Danish second seed Caroline Wozniacki avoided the drama that Dementieva had endured.
She easily walloped the Italian qualifier Alberta Brianti in straight sets 6-1, 6-0 in a one-sided affair that took less than an hour. Britain's Anne Keothavong, who was ranked a career-high 60th in the world this week, enjoyed a comprehensive 6-4, 6-2 victory over Mirjana Lucic of Croatia as she aims to build on a fine 2008. * Reuters