SPORT

Sania loses a close contest to Mara Santangelo

Lleyton Hewitt crashes out of Queen's; Sharapova overcomes indifferent start against qualifier Osterloh

London: Mara Santangelo knocked out Sania Mirza in the second round of the DFS Classic on Wednesday. The match went to the wire with Sania Mirza doing well to win the second set after losing the first. However, Santangelo recovered and kept her nerve in a tense third set tie-breaker to win 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6).

Along with Santangelo, French Open semifinalists Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic also advanced to the third round. Sharapova, who is trying to win her third straight title at the Wimbledon warm-up tournament, struggled early but beat American qualifier Lilia Osterloh 6-4, 6-0. Jankovic defeated Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-4, 6-1.

"(Grass) is so different from clay and makes you use different muscles, which can be difficult at first. But I always enjoy playing on this surface," Sharapova said. "And that performance was OK."

Two break points

Sharapova faced two break points in her opening service game, but recovered and eased through the second set. The second-ranked Russian will next face Tamira Paszek of Austria, who beat 13th-seeded Meilen Tu of the United States 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Jankovic, who lost to top-ranked Justine Henin in the semifinals at Roland Garros, has moved up to No. 3 in the women's rankings.

"I've shown I can beat every player in the world except Henin," the second-seeded Serb said. "I've had difficulty with her but I was close quite a few times and I think I belong at the top of the game." Jankovic is now targeting Wimbledon, which starts on June 25.

"Wimbledon is one of my favourite tournaments and I would love to play well and do well there," Jankovic said. "It's my dream to become number one and maybe if I stay healthy I will make it."

Meanwhile in London, defending champion Lleyton Hewitt was sent crashing out of Stella Artois championships by French qualifier Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round.

Hewitt was bidding for a record fifth singles crown at the traditional Wimbledon warm-up, but Tsonga, ranked 121st in the world, pulled off a stunning upset as be beat the Australian 7-6(5), 7-6(2).

Tsonga, 22, has come into the tournament in excellent form, having won challenger titles in Surbiton and Lanzarote during a run of 20 victories from his last 21 matches.

Hewitt, a former Wimbledon champion, would still have expected to emerge unscathed, but quickly found he wasn't going to have it all his own way.

Tsonga matched his supposedly superior opponent throughout a tight first set and held his nerve impressively to win the tie-breaker. French Open champion Rafael Nadal picked up where he left off in Paris as he cruised past Juan Martin del Potro to reach the third round.

Nadal, the top seed, was back in action just three days after winning his third consecutive Roland Garros title and the Spaniard was too strong for his teenage opponent, winning 6-4, 6-4.

The World No. 2, who will now face Max Mirnyi after the Belarussian beat Gael Monfils 6-7, 6-2, 7-5, is most at home on clay courts, but his relentlessly aggressive approach means he can bully opponents on grass as well.

Djokovic posts win

Novak Djokovic, the fourth seed, clinched a hard-fought 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Robert Kendrick. Djokovic arrived in London bursting with confidence after reaching the French Open semi-finals, the best grand slam performance of his career, and will now face France's 14th seed Arnaud Clement, who coasted past Australian Chris Guccione 6-4, 6-4.

Paes-Damm advance

At Halle, Leander Paes and his Czech partner Martin Damm registered a facile win to sail into the second round of the doubles event. The Indo-Czech duo scored a 6-4, 6-2 win over the Swiss-German pair of Yves Allegro and Michael Kohlmann on Tuesday.

The results: At Birmingham: WTA DFS Classic (second round): Daniela Hantuchova bt Olga Govortsova 6-2, 6-4; Li Na bt Yarslava Shvedova 4-6, 6-2, 6-0; Eleni Daniilidou bt Casey Dellacqua 6-4, 6-4; Maria Kirilenko bt Nathalie Dechy 5-7, 6-2, 6-0; Jelena Jankovic bt Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4, 6-1; Yuliana Fedak bt Milagros Sequera 3-6, 6-4, 6-3; Tamira Paszek bt Meilen Tu 6-2, 7-6(3); Julia Vakulenko bt Andreja Klepac 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3; Maria Sharapova bt Lilia Osterloh 6-4, 6-0; Mara Santangelo bt Sania Mirza 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6); Alona Bondarenko bt Yung-Jan Chan 6-3, 6-4; Angelique Kerber bt Ahsha Rolle 6-4, 6-1; Ayumi Morita bt Ai Sugiyama 6-4, 1-6, 6-2; Marion Bartoli bt Naomi Cavaday 6-3, 6-1. First round: Naomi Cavaday bt Vassilissa Bardina 6-2, 6-1; Vania King bt Brenda Schultz-McCarthy 7-6(7), 7-6(7); Milagros Sequera bt Elena Baltacha 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.

At Halle: ATP Gerry Weber Open (second round): Tomas Berdych bt Fabrice Santoro 6-3, 7-6(5); Philipp Kohlschreiber bt Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi 6-4, 6-3; James Blake bt Evgeny Korolev 7-5, 6-1; Mikhail Youzhny bt Simon Stadler 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. First round: Philipp Kohlschreiber bt Raemon Sluiter 7-6(5), 7-5; Andrei Pavel bt Olivier Rochus 6-3, 7-6(5).

At London: ATP Stella Artois championships (second round): Ivan Ljubicic bt Danai Udomchoke 6-3 6-4; Arnaud Clement bt Chris Guccione 6-4, 6-4; Marin Cilic bt Alejandro Falla 6-3, 6-4; Novak Djokovic bt Robert Kendrick 3-6, 6-3, 6-2; Alex Bogdanovic bt Jamie Baker 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3; Rafael Nadal bt Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-4; Paul-Henri Mathieu bt Michael Llodra 7-6(4) retd.; Max Mirnyi bt Gael Monfils 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-5; Nicolas Mahut bt Jonas Bjorkman 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-3; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bt Lleyton Hewitt 7-6(5), 7-6(2); Robby Ginepri bt Florent Serra 6-4, 7-6(3). First round: Gael Monfils bt Igor Andreev 6-3, 6-4; Florent Serra bt Amer Delic 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4; Ivo Karlovic bt Mardy Fish 6-3, 6-4; Frank Dancevic bt Sergio Roitman 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1. At Barcelona: WTA Barcelona Open (second round): Flavia Pennetta bt Tatjana Malek 6-3, 6-4; Virginie Razzano bt Melinda Czink 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-2; Emilie Loit bt Camille Pin 6-1, 6-1; Meghann Shaughnessy bt Laura Pous 7-5, 6-4.

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