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By Erik Gudris                                    Photo Credit Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

(February 15, 2012) Unlike last year where Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva met in the finals of the Qatar Total Open that saw Zvonareva upset the former No. 1 to claim the title, today saw both the finalist and defending champion lose earlier than expected in what is proving to be a less than a stellar start for both women in the early stages of the new season.

Zvonareva after losing the first set to Romania's Monica Niculescu could only continue for a few games in the second set before the Russian retired down 5-7, 2-3 once again due to a left hip injury that she suffered at the PTT Pattaya Open last week in Thailand.


In a day filled with upsets, the biggest one belong to Lucie Safarova who battled against Wozniacki in three tight sets that saw the lefty Czech save three match points against her at 0-40, 5-all in the third with some huge serves and aggressive play from the baseline. The final set tiebreak saw Wozniacki go up a quick 2-0, but Safarova continued to put pressure on Wozniacki as she won the last five points in the breaker again with her big serve and penetrating groundstrokes giving her a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 win. Safarova now faces Svetlana Kuznetsova who took out fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 6-4.

Top seed Victoria Azarenka in her first match as the new No. 1 had no trouble against Mona Barthel winning easily 6-1, 6-0. Americans Varvara Lepchenko and Christina McHale notched upset wins of their own with McHale coming back from a set down to defeat Shuai Peng 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 while Lepchenko, who qualified for the event, earned one of the biggest wins of her career with a tight 7-6, 7-6 victory over Germany's Julia Goerges.

 

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