1ST LEAD: Razzano runs down Kanepi to reach Dubai final against Venus

1ST LEAD: Razzano runs down Kanepi to reach Dubai final against VenusDubai, UAE  - French surprise packet Virginie Razzano will relax with her boyfriend and a calming glass of beer before facing Venus Williams for the title at the Barclays Championships on Saturday.

The number 58 with two career titles from 2007 is not one to worry too much about the immediate future after crushing Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-1, 6-2.

Venus Williams advanced over her world number one sibling as they met for the 19th time, winning 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3).

Nadal joins Federer in Dubai pull-out

Nadal joins Federer in Dubai pull-outDubai, UAE  - Rafael Nadal joined Roger Federer on the injury list for next week's Barclays Championships, with the Spanish No. 1 pulling out on Thursday to rest from a knee injury.

Nadal's website said that he had to cancel his trip to Dubai due to doctor's orders.

Separately, Federer withdrew with a back injury, which will also cause him to skip Switzerland's Davis Cup tie in Alabama against the United States March 6-8.

Ram reportedly gets UAE visa for Dubai tournament

Andy RamDubai, UAE - Fears that next week's ATP Barclays Championships in Dubai might have been scrapped in a visa dispute for an Israeli player was solved on Thursday, local media reported.

The WAM agency reported that doubles player Andy Ram has been given a visa into the Gulf emirate less than a week after compatriot Shahar Peer's similar request was denied for a women's WTA event.

The controversy which erupted has included calls from American Jewish groups to remove Dubai from the professional tennis calendar.

ROUNDUP: Williams knee no worry in three-set Dubai victory

Serena WilliamsDubai, UAE  - Serena Williams eased through in her first match since withdrawing from a Paris semi-final, overcoming a slow start to get past Sara Errani 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 at the Barclays Championships on Tuesday.

The world number one Australian Open champion had withdrawn in France due to knee pain but showed little sign of discomfort against Errani for a place in the third round.

Williams needed to kick into gear after losing the opening set, storming in the second but double-faulting away two set points in the seventh game.

Slumping Safina writes off another poor performance

Dinara SafinaDubai, UAE - World number two Dinara Safina has written off her 6-4, 6-2 opening defeat Tuesday at the Barclays Championships as a "bad day" as the Russian failed to recover after losing the Australian Open final.

Victory by Virginie Razzano of France marked the second straight loss for the Russian, who said she was well off her game.

"It was not my day, I just couldn't play my game," said Safina, who had won three of four matches against the number 58 Razzano. "I played worse in this loss than I did in Melbourne."

Dubai organizers cite security concerns in Peer visa ban

Dubai organizers cite security concerns in Peer visa ban Dubai, UAE - Dubai organizers of the Barclays Championships on Tuesday cited security concerns and "public sentiment" in the volatile Middle East as likely motives for a ban of Israeli player Shahar Peer from the event.

Three days after the United Arab Emirates government denied the number 45 a visa, the situation threatened to explode into a full-fledged diplomatic incident.

The recent Israeli air attacks on Gaza would not have helped the situation.