THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
DOHA, Qatar — Caroline Wozniacki failed to convert three match points as she was ousted by Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in her opening match at the Qatar Open on Wednesday.
Wozniacki, playing her first match since losing the No. 1 ranking after the Australian Open, received a bye into the second round. She had all three match points in the 10th game of the third set.
“I am disappointed to have lost like this, said the Dane, the runner-up in Doha last year. “I had three match points but wasted them. I just want to move on from here.”
Meanwhile, new Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, in her first match as the new No. 1, dispatched Mona Barthel of Germany 6-1, 6-0.
Safarova saved the match points with groundstroke winners, broke Wozniacki, and went into the tiebreaker. From 3-3, Safarova produced three doubled-handed winners from the baseline against a tiring Wozniacki to race away to 6-3 and win on her first match point to end the contest after nearly 2 1/2 hours. It was her second win over the Dane in three matches.
“I just kept fighting and I am so happy I didn’t give up in the third set,” Safarova said. “I turned the match around. It was amazing.”
Safarova will meet Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round on Thursday. Kuznetsova beat Russian compatriot Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 6-4 to continue her quest for her first Qatar Open title having played two finals.
Unseeded Shahar Peer of Israel stunned former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic 7-6 (4), 6-2 for the first time, and defending champion Vera Zvonareva retired while trailing Monica Niculescu of Romania 7-5, 3-2 because of pain in her left hip.
No. 4-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 5 Marion Bartoli also won in straight sets, but No. 7 Francesca Schiavone lost to Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 7-6 (6), 6-4.