Pless pushes Federer in Dubai Tennis Championship

DOHA: Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza beat Romina Oprandi of Italy 6-4, 6-3 on Monday to advance to the second round of the WTA Qatar Open here.

"Although I made some mistakes, especially while at the net, I am happy that my first match went pretty well," Mirza said.

Also, sixth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia beat Catalina Castano of Colombia 6-1, 6-0 to move up.

Eighth-seeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy defeated Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-4 in another first-round match, while Mara Santangelo also advanced after defeating Sandra Kloesel of Germany 6-3, 7-6(4).

Good start for Federer

Roger Federer began a record 161st week at the top of the ATP tennis rankings on Monday with a hard-fought 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3 victory over Denmark's Kristian Pless in the first round of the $1.5million Dubai Tennis Championship.

Both players held their serve in the opening set, but Federer took the tiebreak 7-2.

Pless refused to be overawed however, and broke the Swiss in the fourth game of the second set, which he went on to take 6-3.

But Federer, who returned to tennis on Monday a month after winning the Australian Open, took the final set 6-3.

Fourth seed Tommy Robredo of Spain went down in straight sets to France's Fabrice Santoro 7-6(5), 6-4.

Former World No.1 Gustavo Kuerten earned his first hard-court victory for 18 months when he booked a place in the round-robin section of the Las Vegas Open in Las Vegas on Monday.

The 30-year-old Brazilian, who played just one match last year following a hip surgery, made light of gusting winds to beat South African Wesley Moodie 6-4, 7-5, and seal his second win in three tour matches this year.

Kuerten, three-time French Open champion, dropped out of the world's top 1,000 before bouncing back to 804th after winning a match at the Brazil Open this month.

He will join German Benjamin Becker and Czech Jan Hernych in one of the eight round-robin groups, with the group winners then progressing to the quarterfinals.

"It's a good feeling," Kuerten told reporters. "To be around again, back in tournaments.

"It's more than one-and-a-half years since I played four matches in one week. That's what I am looking forward to."

The results: At Doha (WTA Qatar Open): First round: Daniela Hantuchova bt Catalina Castano 6-1, 6-0; Sania Mirza bt Romina Oprandi 6-4, 6-3; Mara Santangelo bt Sandra Kloesel 6-3, 7-6(4); Francesca Schiavone bt Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 6-4.

At Las Vegas (Tennis Channel Open): Round-robin league: Group 2: Paul Goldstein bt Julien Benneteau 6-1, 6-0; Group 1: Juan Martin Del Potro bt Evgeny Korolev 6-3, 6-2; Group 5: Fernando Verdasco bt Paul-Henri Mathieu 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

At Acapulco: (Acapulco International): Men: First round: Juan Ignacio Chela bt Sergio Roitman 6-3, 6-2; Jiri Vanek bt Martin Vassallo Arguello 2-6, 6-1, 6-3; Juan Carlos Ferrero bt Potito Starace 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3; Nicolas Devilder bt Fabio Fognini 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-4; Juan Pablo Guzman bt Kevin Kim 6-4, 6-2.

Women: Julia Schruff bt Tzipora Obziler 5-7, 6-2, 6-2; Kaia Kanepi bt Conchita Martinez Granados 6-2, 6-2; Emilie Loit bt Daniela Munoz 6-3, 6-1; Laura Pous bt Hana Sromova 6-1, 7-5.

At Dubai (Dubai Tennis Championship): First round: Fabrice Santoro bt Tommy Robredo 7-6(6), 6-4; Roger Federer bt Kristian Pless 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3; Florent Serra bt Jonas Bjorkman 5-7, 6-3, 6-2; Olivier Rochus bt Lee Hyung-Taik 7-6(4), 6-2; Gilles Simon bt Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-4; Robin Soderling bt David Ferrer 7-6(13), 6-1; Rainer Schuttler bt Andreas Seppi 6-0, 7-6(5). Agencies

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