Safina, Venus out from China Open Tennis

BEIJING: Top seed Dinara Safina imploded at the China Open, losing to an unheralded Chinese player and opening the door for Serena Williams to reclaim the world number one ranking.

Third seed Venus Williams also crashed out of the tournament, losing for the second week in a row to talented Russian teen Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

On the men''s side, Serbia''s Novak Djokovic, the number two seed, dropped his serve once early against Romania''s Victor Hanescu but worked out his jitters to take the match in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5.

China''s Zhang Shuai, 20 years old and ranked 226th in the world, thrilled the partisan crowd on centre court at the Olympic tennis venue by pulling off the second-round win over Safina, 7-5, 7-6 (7/5).

Venus was looking to avenge her loss to Pavlyuchenkova at last week''s Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, but she never found her rhythm against the 18-year-old Russian, who won 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

In other first-round ATP action, eighth seed Marin Cilic of Croatia beat Russia''s Igor Andreev, 6-4, 6-4, and former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero defeated countryman Nicolas Almagro, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3).

In the women''s draw, sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia easily advanced into the round of 16, beating Spain''s Anabel Medina Garrigues, 6-2, 6-1. China''s Li Na rallied to beat Czech Lucie Safarova, 4-6, 6-0, 6-4.