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Bejenaru back in form and close to Madrid spot

By John Flack

Karola Bejenaru is one step away from a place in the main draw at the $15,000 tournament in Madrid after reaching the final round of qualifying in the Spanish capital yesterday.

The 20-year-old Windsor player defeated Finland's Aino Alkio 7-5, 6-0 after an impressive performance in the second set after struggling to find her rhythm in the first.

Bejenaru, who is seeded fourth in qualifying and had a first round bye, will now meet Brazilian Alice Garcia today as she continues her bid to climb back up the world rankings.

She will be hopeful of beating the 23-year-old, who has yet to make the singles main draw in a professional tournament although she did reach a doubles final recently.

Bejenaru reached a career-high 746 on the world-list, little more than a year ago, but has now slumped to 1,071 due to a combination of injury and a loss of form.

"I've been having pretty regular physio on my hip which occasionally still gives me trouble, especially when playing singles which is more demanding than doubles, said the Romanian.

"But hopefully, it will improve and I will be fit enough not only to compete, but do well in the next three tournaments."

Meanwhile, there was disappointment for Peter Bothwell in the doubles final at the $15,000 tournament in Nottingham at the weekend.

Partnered by England's Luke Johnson, the 21-year-old Ulsterman went down 6-3, 5-7, 10-8 to French pair Romain Bauvy and Jonathan Kanar.

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