China’s Li Na began her grass season with just six days left before the start of Wimbledon, with the sixth seed beating Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-4 to reach the second round of the Aegon International on Tuesday.
However, not everything went to plan for the elite, with top seed Agnieszka Radwanska losing to US qualifier Jamie Hampton 7-6 (7/2), 6-2. It was the second straight year that the Pole, a Wimbledon finalist last year, had exited in the opening round.
“It was my first match on grass and I was often afraid of slipping,” Radwanska said. “She played very well and was too good today.”
Unseeded Australian Samantha Stosur also caught a seed on a bad day as she beat No. 8 Nadia Petrova 6-2, 6-3.
“It was a good match, I served well,” Stosur said. “I’ve been working on things for a few days and I’ve been able to train here every day.”
Second seed Li, French Open champion two years ago, moved into a matchup with France’s Marion Bartoli, a former titleholder at the grass event on the English south coast.
“For a first grass-court match it was pretty good. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and another tough match,” Li said.
No. 3 Angelique Kerber beat Sorona Cirstea 6-4, 6-4, while 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova stopped Monica Niculescu 6-4, 6-1.
Fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki, the former WTA No. 1, began her grass campaign with a win as she put out holder Tamira Paszek.
The Austrian retired trailing 6-2, 2-2, with the same left-thigh injury which last week forced her from play in Birmingham.
Paszek, who has won just one match since mid-January, reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals at the last two editions. However, she is now in doubt for next week.
“I can’t say really much about the injury just now, I just have to do a couple more scans and analyze with the doctor,” the No. 29 defending champion said.
“It’s really, really painful. I’m going to try my very best to get ready for Wimbledon and try to be positive. It happened at 1-all, I stretched a bit too much on the backhand side and actually heard a huge noise, which isn’t usually a good sign. It was a sudden pain and I immediately called the trainer,” she added.
“I actually won that game, played like three winners on one leg. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to continue. I’m going to try my best to even go on court in Wimbledon, try to get ready,” she said.
Wild-card Elena Baltacha claimed a British victory, beating Czech Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 7-6 (7/3), while Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei beat Briton Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-3. Laura Robson also took a win, beating Yuliya Beygelzimer 6-3, 6-2.
Australian Bernard Tomic has recharged his form on grass, shaking off last week’s hamstring concern to post a 6-3, 6-4 first-round win over Briton James Ward.
The victory came one week after Tomic lost in the opening round at Queen’s Club to German Benjamin Becker, while nursing his injury.
That is all past history now for the 64th-ranked Tomic.
“This was an important win, it’s a big relief to get this one,” he said. “The hamstring is 100 percent now. If I can get some more wins like this on grass, it will really help my confidence.”
Tomic is playing the Wimbledon tune-up for the first time two years after reaching a quarter-final at the All England club.
The top Australian, who captured his first career title in Sydney in January, finally broke a three-match first-round losing streak dating to Madrid last month.
Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, twice a Wimbledon quarter-finalist, beat Finn Jarkko Nieminen 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/5). Slovak Martin Klizan beat Victor Troicki 6-3, 6-2, while Ivan Dodig stropped Denis Istomin 6-3, 6-4.
Czech veteran Radek Stepanek schooled Aussie Marinko Matosevic 6-3, 6-2.
In the women’s doubles, Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching and Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic rallied to defeat Janette Husarova of Slovakia and Varvara Lepchenko of the US 2-6, 6-2, 10-7.
Additional reporting by staff writer