Sydney International: Wild-card Eugenie Bouchard, title holder Svetlana Kuznetsova off to winning starts

Sydney: Eugenie Bouchard made the most of her wild-card entry to the Sydney International, beating Zhang Shuai of China 7-6 (1), 6-2 on Sunday in a first-round match.

Bouchard, a 22-year-old former Wimbledon finalist, was beaten in the first round of the Brisbane International last week in her first warm-up tournament for the Australian Open, which begins on 16 January and where she was a surprise semifinalist in 2014.

The Canadian went on to make the semis at the French Open that year before losing to Petra Kvitova in the Wimbledon final. Bouchard finished that year ranked seventh, but injuries and poor form since have seen her ranking slide to 46.

Eugenie Bouchard in action during her first-round clash against Zhang Shuai. Getty Images

Eugenie Bouchard in action during her first-round clash against Zhang Shuai. Getty Images

Earlier at Sydney, two-time Grand Slam singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6-1, 6-4. Defending champion Kuznetsova broke the Romanian's serve in the ninth game of the second set, then held serve to advance to the second round of the ATP-WTA tournament.

Earlier, Brisbane International finalists Karolina Pliskova and Alize Cornet withdrew from their next scheduled tournaments due to injuries.

Pliskova, who beat Cornet 6-0, 6-3 at Brisbane on Saturday evening, withdrew from the Sydney International with a left inner thigh injury. Pliskova, who would have been seeded fourth in Sydney, was replaced by lucky loser Roberta Vinci of Italy.

Sydney officials also announced seventh-seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine withdrew due to a viral illness.

"I've had constant headaches for the last two days and unfortunately in today's hot weather it got even worse when I was warming up and my body wasn't ready to compete," Svitolina said.

Svitolina was scheduled to play Olympic champion Monica Puig on Sunday, but Puig will now play a lucky loser from qualifying on Monday.

No 1 Angelique Kerber and third-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska remain in the Sydney draw.

At Hobart, defending champion Cornet withdrew from the tournament with a back injury, a Tennis Australia official said.

American Shelby Rogers posted the first upset of that tournament in the opening match, beating second-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. Lizette Cabrera of Australia continued the Hobart trend, beating fifth-seeded Misaki Doi of Japan 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.

In a men's tournament at Auckland, New Zealand, top-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut and second-seeded John Isner headline the entries. Bautista Agut, Isner, third-seeded David Ferrer and No 4-seeded Jack Sock have first-round byes in the tournament which begins on Monday.

Published Date: Jan 08, 2017 13:13 PM | Updated Date: Jan 08, 2017 13:13 PM

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