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No2 Safina awaits seed-slayer Baltacha

BRITISH women’s No1 Elena Baltacha is confident of causing another upset after setting up an Australian Open third-round clash with world No2 Dinara Safina.

World No83 Baltacha equalled her best ever performance at a Grand Slam by pulling off a shock triumph over 30th seed Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round in Melbourne.

The 26-year-old’s 6-2, 7-5 victory over the Ukrainian was only her fourth over a top-50 ranked opponent but continued an upward trajectory that saw her reach a career-high No83 this month.

And that reinvigoration is helping Baltacha adopt an optimistic mindset as she prepares to face former world No1 Safina in the biggest match of her career.

“It’s confidence. I used to look back; I used to do that a lot. I’m fed up doing that. It’s all about looking forwards. I just kept thinking ‘you are good enough’,” said the Scot.

“Safina is a good player. She has had an injury recently and I’ll have nothing to lose. I’ll have a day off tomorrow and recharge.”

Baltacha’s fellow Briton Katie O’Brien could not match her compatriot’s achievement, however, albeit against far tougher opposition, going down 6-2, 6-2 to eighth seed Jelena Jankovic.

Elsewhere in the women’s draw, former world No1 Justine Henin continued her comeback by battling past fifth seed Elena Dementieva 7-5, 7-6 (8-6).

The Belgian, champion in 2004 but playing in her first Grand Slam since coming out of retirement earlier this month, will face 27th seed Alisa Kleybanova in round three.

US Open champion Kim Clijsters, who also returned to the game in recent months, was made to work for her 6-3, 6-3 second-round win over Thailand’s Tamarine Tanasugarn.