Kirilenko feels sorry for Zheng Jie's absence

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Former champion Maria Kirilenko took an easy opening win in the first round of China Open here on Sunday. During the post-match conference, the Russian expressed her sorry for the absence of her good friend Zheng Jie.

"I'm really like sad that she couldn't play here because of the injury," said the 26th-ranked Kirilenko, who trounced local wildcard Zhang Shuai 6-1, 6-0 on Sunday's first round match.

"I send her an e-mail, you know, that I hope she will be fine for next year. It's difficult of course to miss the tournament in your country. I hope she will be fine next year, I wish."

Zheng, who claimed the title in the women's doubles at this year's Mercury Insurance Open in San Diego with Kirilenko, decided to skip China Open and leave for the United States for surgery to her left wrist.

"We had a good tournament in San Diego. We played really well, you know. Like I think after that, I become good friends with Jie Zheng," said the 23-year-old Kirilenko, champ of China Open in 2005.

"We even talked about the possibility of maybe playing some tournaments, as well. She told me after we won the final, she said, Maria you get so popular in China after we won, so all newspapers writing about our victory."

Kirilenko will face Gisela Dulko in the second round of the 4.5 million U.S. dollar tournament. The Argentinian upset 14th seed Aravane Rezai of France 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

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