Serena returns to the top with convincing victory

American ace displaces Dinara Safina from the No 1 spot

Serena Williams celebrates her return to the top after defeating Ekaterina Makarova in Beijing on Tuesday. AFPWilliams's 6-3, 6-2 second-round victory over Russian Ekaterina Makarova means she will replace Dinara Safina as world number one when the rankings are issued next week, ending the Russian's controversial 25-week reign.


Her fellow American Roddick, however, was humbled 6-2, 6-4 by Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot, while Serbian Jankovic, nursing the wrist injury that forced her to retire from the final of last week's Pan Pacific Open, lost 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 to China's Peng Shuai. Spain's world number two Rafael Nadal later came through a thorough, 130-minute test of his fitness after a two-week layoff with an abdominal injury, beating Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in an entertaining first-round encounter.

Safina's defeat to 226th-ranked wildcard Zhang Shuai on Monday had left the way open for Williams to return to the number one spot and she never looked like blowing her chance.

The second seed was broken in her first service game and made a meal of her last but converted her fourth match point to seal the victory, raising a single finger in the air in celebration of her return to the top.

"I'm really excited," said the 28-year-old. "Obviously I'm happy to be there because I've worked so hard this year to get there. I think I've earned it."

Maria Sharapova, who was handed her first title since her return from injury when Jankovic withdrew in Tokyo last Saturday, mounted a sensational fight back from 5-2 down in the third set to beat ninth seed Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-7, 7-5.
 Elena Dementieva, who won Olympic gold here last year, beat Hungarian Melinda Czink 6-4, 6-3 to set up a last-16 tie against China's Li Na.

Fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko beat fellow Russian Igor Kunitsyn 6-1, 6-7, 6-2, Spain's fifth seed Fernando Verdasco beat American Robby Ginepri 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 and seventh seed Fernando Gonzalez also progressed with a 7-5, 6-4 win over David Ferrer in the men's first round.

Del Potro beaten

US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro fell to a shock 6-4, 6-4 defeat by world number 189 Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the first round of the Japan Open on Tuesday.
Defending champion Tomas Berdych thrashed Japan's Go Soeda 6-2, 6-4 to give the Czech fifth seed a solid start to his title defence.

French third seed Gilles Simon, swatted aside Japan's Takao Suzuki 6-3, 6-4 while Lleyton Hewitt advanced to the last 16,  beating Japan's Tatsuma Ito 6-1, 7-5.

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