Safina falls but no slip ups for Serena

Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:27am EDT
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - World number one and holder Dinara Safina made an early exit from the Toronto Cup on Wednesday, shocked 3-6 6-2 6-4 in the second round by 39th ranked Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai.

There were no such slip ups from world number two Serena Williams, however, as the Wimbledon and Australia Open champion rolled to a 6-3 6-2 win over Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova.

The two results set up the possibility of a spicy subplot to the U.S. Open, where the debate over who should be women's number one could be settled on court.

While Williams cannot overtake Safina with a victory in Toronto, a win would allow the American to slice a huge chunk off Safina's 1,004 point advantage, putting the Russian well within striking distance at Flushing Meadow.

Without a grand slam title on her resume, Safina has been forced to repeatedly defend her number one status while Willliams, who currently holds three grand slam titles, has been dismissive of the rankings system.

"I don't follow the rankings anymore, been there done that," said Williams, who held the number one spot for 11 weeks earlier this year. "My motivation is to just go out there and play my best whether I'm number one or number 100."

Safina, eight times a finalist this season including last week in Cincinnati, could not find her feet on the Canadian hardcourt and contributed to her own demise by serving up 17 double faults.

REZAI REVENGE   Continued...

<p>Dinara Safina of Russia returns a forehand shot to Aravane Rezai of France during their second round match at the Rogers Cup tournament in Toronto, August 19, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>