Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Dinara Safina battles knee problem

Dinara Safina is hoping a problematic knee will not get in the way of her Wimbledon challenge as she prepares for her second round meeting with Rossana De Los Rios of Paraguay later today.

The world number one battled through the pain barrier in her opening win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino having been struck by tendinitis, the same injury which forced Rafael Nadal to withdraw from the men's event.

Safina is aiming to win her first grand slam title, and is keeping her fingers crossed her knee will not deteriorate as the tournament progresses.

"It's been bothering me already since April, since the clay court season," said the Russian.

"In some tournaments I'm playing just on Voltaren (a painkiller) because it's so painful to go on the knee on the serve.

"Since the move to grass, the surface is softer, so I have to push more. But I'm having treatment here so hopefully I can play. It's nothing that's killing me."

Two-time defending champion Venus Williams is also back on court having been made to work hard for her opening-round victory by Swiss Stefanie Voegele.

The third seed, who is gunning for her sixth title at the All England Club, takes on Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko on Court One.

World number 73 Bondarenko has never gone beyond the second round at Wimbledon, but could still prove a tricky customer for the American.

Sixth seed Jelena Jankovic was another player who struggled in the opening round, and the Serbian will have to be at her best to avoid an early exit when she takes on Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic.

One player already safely through to the third round is last year's beaten finalist Serena Williams, who eased past Australia's Jarmila Groth in straight sets yesterday.

Maria Sharapova failed to join her though as she succumbed to Gisela Dulko in an entertaining clash on Centre Court.

The Russian only recently returned from a lengthy spell out with a shoulder injury, so the loss was perhaps not that unexpected against a player placed higher in the world rankings.

But Serena Williams still had words of consolation for Sharapova after hearing of her rival's early exit.

"I know how hard it is to come back," said the second seed.

"When you're in that position you can understand how much tougher it is, how much time it takes to get back to your top form and be in a position to compete with top players.

"She's still playing really well though and I think she'll be fine."

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