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Good start for Chani

Our Chani Scheepers got off to a fine start in the Dubai Duty Free Championships on Monday.

After going out in the second round of the PTT Pattaya Open in Thailand last week, Scheepers, ranked 80th in the world, was an impressive winner in Dubai as she beat Russia’s Maria Kirilenko in the tournament’s opening match on centre court.

Scheepers, 26, won 6-2 6-2 after coming through the weekend’s qualifying rounds. Kirilenko, ranked 26th in the world, is a big scalp for Scheepers after having reached the quarter-finals at the Dubai Open in 2006 and also in good early season form having reached the doubles finals of the Australian Open earlier this year.

The Dubai Open website reports that Kirilenko was under pressure from the beginning, as three consecutive breaks of serve left her trailing 2-1. Scheepers then held a break point for 4-1 when Kirilenko double-faulted, but Kirilenko survived that threat and then had a golden opportunity to climb back into contention.

She held no less than four break points to level at 3-3 in a marathon game that stretched to eight deuces, but the South African held on her sixth game point, broke Kirilenko to love and served out the set.

The second set saw six breaks as Kirilenko failed to hold her own serve, and although Scheepers double-faulted on her first match point she closed out the match on her second.

“Even though the score looked easy it wasn’t an easy match,” said Scheepers. “I played really aggressive to not let her into the match and just tried sticking to that plan and to my game. I think the long game was definitely a very important game. “I think if it went the other way the score could have been totally different.”

Scheepers now comes up against sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic in the second round.

Meanwhile our top-ranked men’s player, Kevin Anderson is in action at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, Tennessee. Now ranked 40th in the world, he was rewarded with an eighth-placed seeding. He comes up against American qualifier Robert Kendrick in first round action on Monday.