Tennis: Kournikova battles back to win

Anna Kournikova survived a scare in the first round of the Open Gaz de France tournament in Paris.

Anna Kournikova survived a scare in the first round of the Open Gaz de France tournament in Paris.

The 20-year-old Russian bounced back after losing the first set to defeat Switzerland’s Emmanuelle Gagliardi 6-7 (3/7) 6-4 6-4.

Kournikova lost in the early rounds at Sydney and the Australian Open but reached the semi-finals at the ASB Bank Classic and last week’s Pan Pacific Open.

Number seven seed Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria crashed out in straight sets (7-5 6-4) to Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia.

But ninth seed Elena Dementieva advanced with a 3-6 6-3 7-5 win over fellow Russian qualifier Elena Bovina.

Dementieva, who lost to Kournikova in the second round last week, was awarded a seed after six-ranked Sandrine Testud of France withdrew due to severe pain and inflammation in her neck.

Lucky loser Meilen Tu of the United States advanced to face top seed Venus Williams in the second round when Slovakia’s Henrieta Nagyova retired in the second set with a strained right wrist.

Tu was leading 6-3 4-2 when the match was halted.

Williams did not play last week after losing to Monica Seles in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

In other first-round matches, Spain’s Cristina Torrens Valero defeated Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder 1-6 7-5 6-3, Francesca Schiavone of Italy beat Germany’s Marlene Weingartner 6-3 1-6 6-4 and Germany’s Greta Arn ousted Elena Likhovtseva of Russia 6-3 6-4.

Belgium’s Justin Henin is seeded second, followed by defending champion Amelie Mauresmo of France, Yugoslavia’s Jelena Dokic and Seles.

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