Serena Williams stamped her authority on the Brisbane International yesterday, when she crushed Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-2.
On a day that saw second seed Maria Sharapova withdraw with an injured collarbone and fifth and sixth seeds Sara Errani and Petra Kvitova bundled out, Williams was all business as she disposed of Cornet in exactly one hour.
The 15-time Grand Slam winner broke Cornet in the first game of the match and was never troubled after that, as she broke the Frenchwoman once more in the first set and twice in the second for a comprehensive victory.
Williams had far too much firepower for Cornet, hitting 25 winners to four including six aces. One in the second set was clocked at 200kph.
The third-seeded American stepped up a gear from her -opening-round win over fellow countrywoman Varvara Lepchenko.
“She’s [Cornet] a former top 15 player and we’ve had a tough three-set match before, so I knew I had to play really well,” Williams said. “I tried to be more aggressive and tried to be more consistent.”
Sharapova was earlier forced to withdraw with a right collarbone injury.
The Russian world No. 2 sent scans of her injury to her doctor in New York, who advised her not to do any overhead training for at least a week.
“So to be fair, I haven’t really given myself a chance to pretty much hit any serves or anything over my head, I’ve just been practicing groundstrokes. So I just kind of ran out of time here,” she said.
It is the second year in a row that Sharapova has withdrawn from the tournament without playing a shot.
Last year, she skipped Brisbane because of an ankle injury and went straight to Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open, where she finished runner-up to Victoria Azarenka.
Sharapova said she would do the same this year, passing up the opportunity of playing in Sydney next week to make sure she is fit for Melbourne.
Former Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who won in Brisbane in 2011, went down 6-4, 7-5 to Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, while Italy’s Errani lost in three sets to last year’s runner-up Daniela Hantuchova 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.
“It wasn’t my best tennis today and I think that it’s the beginning of the season, so I hoped that it could be better, for sure,” Kvitova said. “Right now I have still some space where I can improve and I hope that in Melbourne I will improve these things.”
Top seed and world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka plays her second-round match against German Sabine Lisicki today.
In the men’s draw, Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin downed eighth seed Slovakian Martin Klizan 6-1, 6-2, while Austria’s Jurgen Melzer, the seventh seed, beat US qualifier Denis Kudla 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Australian qualifier John Millman set up a second-round clash against Andy Murray when he beat Japan’s Tatsumo Ito 6-4, 6-1 and Tommy Robredo of Spain edged American Ryan Harrison 6-4, 7-6 (7/4).
Normal service resumed at the ASB Classic women’s tennis tournament yesterday as the top two seeds, Agnieszka Radwanska and Julia Goerges, moved easily into the second round.
Radwanska, the top seed and world No. 4, quickly disposed of former Auckland champion Greta Arn 6-2, 6-2, while Goerges was in similar command against qualifier Anastasija Sevastova, winning 6-3, 6-4.
They were far more accomplished performances than seen on the opening day, when defending champion and fourth seed Zheng Jie, former world No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova and seventh seed Christina McHale were first round losers.
Radwanska, who was beaten in three sets by Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final last year, had too much finesse for Arn, who is ranked 110 places below her.
She wrapped up the match in just over an hour, dominating from the baseline and wearing Arn down in a series of rallies.
“I think this is my style. To be honest, I don’t really work on that, I was just born to play like that,” the 56kg Polish player said. “With my body, I can’t serve 200kph, so I think I have to mix up everything and try to do something else, not just powerful shots.”
Goerges, a top 20 player who usually dominates with a powerful first serve, was woefully off target in the first set against Sevastova, with only a 33 percent success rate.
However, she was able to rely on her extensive groundstroke armory, which proved too much for her 22-year-old Latvian opponent, who ranks 184th in the world.
The only ranked player to fall on the second day was fifth seed Sorana Cirstea. The Romanian retired hurt after losing the first set 6-3 to Britain’s Heather Watson.
AP, PERTH, Australia
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has handed John Isner his second straight singles defeat at the Hopman Cup, beating the American 6-3, 6-2 to give France a 1-0 lead yesterday.
Later yesterday on hard court at the Perth Arena, Venus Williams beat Mathilde Johansson 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to take the match into a decisive mixed doubles.
The Americans won their opening match at the eight-team tournament, beating South Africa on Sunday, while France lost to their opening match to Spain.
AFP and AP,
BEIJING and SHENZHEN, China
British teenage tennis sensation Laura Robson crashed out of the Shenzhen Open in straight sets yesterday, a disappointing start to a year in which she is seeking to break into the world top 50.
The 18-year-old, currently ranked 53rd in the world, lost her second-round match against Romania’s Monica Niculescu 2-6, 3-6 in 1 hour, 16 minutes.
She was seeded seventh in the hard court tournament, and came into the contest ranked five places above her opponent.
Meanwhile, Chinese No. 1 and world No. 7 Li Na defeated Luxembourger Mandy Minella 6-4, 6-0 in her first round match.
The 2011 French Open singles title winner and top seed will face American Julia Cohen in the next phase of the competition.
The Shenzhen Open — carrying total prize money of US$500,000 — is being played for the first time as tennis expands in China on the back of Li’s huge popularity.
Eighth-seeded Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia could await Li in the quarter-finals after beating Duan Yingying of China 6-3, 6-1 in the second round.
In other second-round matches, fifth-seeded Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic beat Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-4, 6-3, Monica Niculescu of Romania beat seventh-seeded Laura Robson of Britain 6-2, 6-3, and sixth-seeded Shuai Peng of China swept past Ayumi Morita of Japan for a seventh straight time, 6-1, 6-1.
In the doubles, Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching and Chan Jing-yan beat Romania’s Alexandra Cadantu and the UK’s Anne Keothavong 6-0, 6-1.
In the doubles quarter-finals, Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen and China’s Yan Zi beat Nina Bratchikova of Russia and Janette Husarova of Slovakia 7-6, 6-4, 10-6.
Additional reporting by staff writer