Former number one Safina takes early U.S. Open exit

By Simon Cambers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former world number one Dinara Safina suffered another early exit from a grand-slam event when she was beaten 6-3 6-4 by Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova in the first round of the U.S. Open on Monday.

The Russian, who has slipped 49 places to number 50 in the space of 12 injury-hit months, fought hard but was dumped out after a battle lasting one hour, 46 minutes.

Safina, who missed over three months of the 2010 season with lower-back problems, defeated Hantuchova last week in the warm-up event in New Haven but won her serve just once in the opening set.

The Russian raised her game in the second and had two break points to level at 5-5, but 24th seed Hantuchova clinched victory when a Safina return drifted long.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)