Kvitova, Wozniacki win openers at Dubai

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 19, 2013 18:15 hrs

Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova made it out of the first round of the Dubai Championships for the first time in three visits Tuesday by routing Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-1.

Kvitova, seeded sixth, broke the Slovak qualifier five times, the last when Hantuchova double-faulted twice in the final game.

Kvitova set up a second-round match with former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic. Another former No. 1, Caroline Wozniacki, had little trouble against 18th-ranked Lucie Safarova, beating her 6-2, 6-2.

Wozniacki, the 2011 Dubai champion, is on course to meet new No. 1 Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.

Williams, who received a first-round bye, became the highest seed at No. 2 when Victoria Azarenka withdrew because of a right foot injury. Azarenka said has been hurt for a week, a period in which she successfully defended her Doha title and beat Williams in the weekend final.

"I tried (to play), but my body says no. I cannot force (it)," Azarenka said. "I cannot put myself in a position to hurt myself. That would just be stupid."

She plans to travel to the United States to prepare for next month's key tournament at Indian Wells, Calif.

Williams is playing for the fourth time in Dubai and has never won there. Sister Venus has won the tournament twice, but Serena's three previous visits didn't end so well. In her debut in 2005, she had to retire in the semifinals. In 2008, she withdrew before the tournament because of the flu, and in 2009 she lost to Venus in the semis.

This time, Williams says she's healthy — she had a flu bug last week — and upbeat even after losing the final in Doha. She's to meet Marion Bartoli in the second round.

"I feel so much better this week," Williams said. "I feel like a completely different athlete, a completely different person."

At 31, Williams became the oldest No. 1 in the WTA's rankings history on Monday. She said she was proud to have regained the ranking after a tumultuous few years and is now intent on her 48th career title and more Grand Slam success.

"I feel like I'm at a place where I reached that goal of getting back to the top," she said. "If I stay that would be great, and if not then I've done it."

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