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Medal hopefuls shape up for Olympic tennis event (3)
20:27, August 04, 2008

World number seven Dinara Safina has become a heavy favorite for the event as she beat Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-1 to claim the Montreal Cup on Sunday and her second title in a row.

"I think my experience helped me a bit in the final, I'm sure Dominika's time will come soon though," an elated Safina told the WTA official website.

"It's the first time in my life I have won tournaments back-to-back, Usually I would win a tournament and the next week I would lose in the first round.

"So I was happy when I won the first match and then I was just taking it one match at a time."

In a possible Beijing showdown, American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan also hit top gear ahead of the Olympic Games as they came from behind to beat Israel's Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram in Cincinnati Masters event on Sunday.

The 30-year-old Bryan twins have won titles this season at ATP Masters Series events in Miami and Rome and in Barcelona.

"It's a huge confidence boost and it's our first title in a few months," Mike Bryan told the ATP official website. "In this tournament I think we played extremely well. We're going into the Olympics playing, I think the match is the best test we have all year.

"To beat a great team like Andy and Jonathan who have had a tremendous year, it bodes well. I mean, a huge goal of ours is to have a good performance at the Olympics. We've been looking forward to it all year. We're going to take a week off and then give it our best shot."

The host China needs to pin their hopes on women's doubles in which they hope the ace duo Zheng Jie and Yan Zi will defend the title they had won in Athens four years ago.

But head coach Jiang Hongwei played down the medal hopes in the Aug. 10-17 tennis event.

"Women's doubles changed a lot since and the WTA has raised the ranking points and the prize money for the event, so more and more players get involved and the rivalry has become tight," said Jiang at the Olympic Green Tennis Center on Monday.

The Chinese women's team went to North China's Tianjin for final assault towards the Beijing Games since the players finished the Wimbledon competition.

The three-week-long camp was completely behind-door as the Chinese team needed to get away from the media hype. "When we came back from the Wimbledon, we were just stunned by the noisy media at the airport. The players need to calm down ahead of the Games," Jiang said. "Keep a cool mind helps shrug off the pressure."

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