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Safina, Dementieva win in Sydney

Dinara Safina of Russia, sixth seed, returns the ball to Serena Williams, U.S.A, fourth seed, in semi-final play at the U.S. Open tennis championship at the U.S. National Tennis Center on September 5, 2008 in Flushing Meadows, New York. (UPI Photo/Monika Graff)
Dinara Safina of Russia, sixth seed, returns the ball to Serena Williams, U.S.A, fourth seed, in semi-final play at the U.S. Open tennis championship at the U.S. National Tennis Center on September 5, 2008 in Flushing Meadows, New York. (UPI Photo/Monika Graff) | License Photo

SYDNEY, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Russians Dinara Safina and Elena Dementieva won straight-set victories Monday in the first round of the Medibank International, a final Australian Open tune-up.

Safina, seeded second, had little trouble dispatching Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-1. Dementieva, the third seed who won at Auckland last week, eliminated fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 6-1 on the hard courts at Sydney International Tennis Centre.

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Safina, who was last year's French Open and Olympic runner-up, meets fellow Russian Vera Dushevina next. Dementieva, who won the gold medal in Beijing last year and is coming off a win at the ASB Classic, faces Slovakian wild card Jarmila Gajdosova.

In other action, France's Alize Cornet upset seventh-seeded Russian Nadia Petrova 6-2, 6-4. Eighth-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki avoided a similar fate by beating Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 6-1, 6-2.

Also on Monday, Russian Alisa Kleybanova defeated compatriot Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-2, while Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova downed Czech qualifier Klara Zakopalova 6-3, 6-0. Italian Karin Knapp, who replaced Victoria Azarenka, who pulled out with an illness, lost to Gajdosova 6-4, 6-2.

The winner of the $600,000 event will pocket $98,500.

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