US Open champion Sam Stosur was bundled out in the first round of the Sydney International in a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Francesca Schiavone yesterday in another setback to her preparations for next week’s Australian Open.
Schiavone beat Stosur in the 2010 French Open final and had little trouble disposing of the local favorite again.
World No. 6 Stosur won only one match in Brisbane last week and she will be short of match sharpness in Melbourne, where she will chase back-to-back Grand Slam titles following her US Open victory.
“You do all the work leading up and you feel OK, and then today all of a sudden it’s just like a bombshell hits you,” Stosur said. “The whole emotional side of things really took over. Melbourne is coming up and I want to start playing well. Being in Australia and playing in Australia, I want to play the best I can play and do it all here this month.”
Schiavone is set next to play Brisbane International finalist Daniela Hantuchova, who beat another Italian, Roberta Vinci, 7-5, 6-2.
While Stosur struggled, defending champion Li Na, third-seeded Victoria Azarenka, No. 7 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 8 Marion Bartoli all advanced to the second round.
Li won her first nine games and needed only 66 minutes to beat Russian qualifier Ekaterina Makarova 6-0, 6-3.
Nine of the top 10 ranked women were entered in the Sydney International. Already, two are out of contention after Stosur and sixth seed Vera Zvonareva failed in the first round — Zvonareva was comprehensively beaten 6-1, 6-2 by Russian compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova had a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win over Peng Shuai of China to set up a second-round match against world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who had a first-round bye.
Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania routed Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson 6-1, 6-1 and she is scheduled to play Petra Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion.
In other first-round matches, Azarenka of Belarus beat Stefanie Vogele of Switzerland 6-2, 6-1; Bartoli of France beat Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-3, 6-3; Radwanska beat her sister Urszula 6-1, 6-1; and Andrea Petkovic of Germany beat Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-3.
In the men’s draw, Bobby Reynolds and Ryan Sweeting of the advanced; Poland’s Lukasz Kubot had a 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 win over Ivan Dodig of Croatia; Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan beat Spain’s Pablo Andujar; and Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen ousted Australian teenager James Duckworth 6-2, 6-2.
Mathew Ebden had an upset 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over seventh seed Marcel Granollers of Spain.
AP, HOBART, AUSTRALIA
Bethanie Mattek-Sands recovered from an early break to beat 15-year-old Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 6-2 yesterday to advance to the second round of the Hobart International.
Top seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium advanced 7-5, 6-4 over New Zealander Marina Erakovic, while fourth seed Angelique Kerber of Germany defeated Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-2, 6-4.