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No. 1 Safina leads Russian charge for quarterfinals in Rome


MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti) - Four Russians, including world No. 1 Dinara Safina, will play on Wednesday for places in the quarterfinals of the $2 million WTA tennis tournament in Rome.

Safina beat France's Virginie Razzano in straight sets, sweeping through the second 6-1 after being pushed to a tie-breaker in a nervy opening set. She will face last year's Wimbledon semi-finalist Zheng Jie on Wednesday after the Chinese 14th seed defeated another Russian, Elena Vesnina, 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2.

The seventh and eight seeds, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova, overcame Daniela Hantuchova and Carla Suarez Navarro in the second round.

Kuznetsova waltzed past the Slovakian 6-3, 6-3 to set up a tie with Italian Flavia Pennetta, while Petrova needed three sets to get past the stubborn Spaniard 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. She will face another Spaniard, 26-year-old Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, in the next round.

The last member of the Russian quartet aiming for the quarterfinals, Anna Chakvetadze, came back from a set down to outlast Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3. The former world No. 5, who has plunged to 22nd in the WTA rankings over the past 18 months, will face Venus Williams in a potentially intriguing match on Wednesday evening.

Safina and Petrova will also play together in the doubles tournament on Wednesday against Vesnina and Victoria Azarenka. The rising Belarusian star, who forced her way into the top 10 rankings this season, is also in action in the singles earlier in the day, playing Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the last eight.

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