Safina wins but faces the ‘hot’ Hantuchova next.

Dinara Safina recovered an early service break to defeat Spaniard Arantxa Parra Santonja 6-3, 6-3 in the night session. It was just the second win this season for two-time Indian Wells quarter-finalist Safina, who had dropped to a No. 108 ranking coming into the week. Safina will look to string together back-to-back wins for the first time since last September in Seoul when she next meets Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova, a winner of two BNP Paribas Open titles. Safina leads the head-to-head series 6-4, including wins in four of their past five meetings.

Wild card Sloane Stephens defeated qualifier Jamie Hampton 6-2, 6-4 in an all-American match Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open to set up a second-round clash with WTA No. 1 and returning finalist Caroline Wozniacki. The 17-year-old Stephens achieved her career-best win on her tour-level debut here last year, when she came through the qualifying rounds and defeated a 67th-ranked Lucie Hradecka before falling to No. 12 Vera Zvonareva. Hampton, the lone American among the 12 qualifiers, was looking for her first win in her sixth tour-level main draw appearance. Another wild card recipient, Christina McHale, had little difficulty getting past Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova, posting a 6-3, 6-1 victory in 65 minutes. The 18-year-old New Jersey native made her Indian Wells debut last year (l. to King). Jill Craybas fell in the first round on her 11th BNP Paribas Open appearance, beaten by Hungary’s Agnes Szavay 6-3, 6-3. The 36 year old had fared well in her most recent visits to the desert, reaching the third round in 2010 (l. to Bartoli) and fourth round in ’09 (l. to Safina).

Russian Ekaterina Makarova handed Canadian qualifier Rebecca Marino her first loss in a first-round match this season, defeating the 20 year old 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in just over two hours. Marino had reached her maiden tour-level final last month in Memphis. In other matches Thursday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Great Britain’s Elena Baltacha defeated Italian Roberta Vinci 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 and Urszula Radwanska prevailed against Serbian Bojana Jovanovski 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(6) in two hours and 49 minutes.


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