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Wozniacki endures disastrous start to new season

ESPN staff
December 31, 2012 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »
Australian hoodoo strikes Sam Stosur

Caroline Wozniacki's new season got off to the worst possible start, as she was beaten by qualifier Ksenia Pervak at the Brisbane International.

Wozniacki, the eighth seed, was forced to deny renewed speculation about an engagement to world No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy - in the stands in Australia - ahead of the contest, but only the Dane will know whether her concentration was broken as she succumbed to a 6-2 3-6 7-6(1) loss against the relatively unheralded Kazakhstani.

Wozniacki started brightly, romping to the first set as Pervak - who lost 14 first round matches in 2012 - struggled to find a rhythm. But the world No. 103 turned the tables in the second stanza and held her nerve in the third, eventually triumphing in a one-sided tiebreak to bring the first real surprise of the new season.

"I fought until the end. Maybe didn't play my best tennis today, but it's tough to expect that from yourself in your first match back," Wozniacki said. "Now I just have to play some practice matches with some of the other girls here and then go to Sydney and hopefully get a couple more there."

Wozniacki's embarrassment was somewhat masked later in the day, however, as home favourite Sam Stosur found herself dumped out by Swede Sofia Arvidsson.

In the last match of the day, the Australian failed to produce the popular victory that was hoped for - as Arvidsson spoilt the party in the opening set tiebreak and then went on to capitalise on some nervy Stosur shots to claim a 7-6(4) 7-5 triumph that took the best part of two hours.

Elsewhere, fourth seed Angelique Kerber had to come through her own three-set rollercoaster to defeat Anna Tatishvili 6-2 4-6 6-2, while there was a comfortable 6-1 6-3 triumph for Sara Errani against Russian qualifier Olga Puchkova.

There were also wins for American Sloane Stephens, German Sabine Lisicki and France's Alize Cornet.

At the Shenzhen Open, there was disappointment for Brit Anne Keothavong, as she was beaten handily by home favourite Shuai Peng.

Having won twice in qualifying to reach the main draw, Keothavong had no answer for the sixth seed - staying with Peng in the first set before eventually crumbling to a 6-4 6-0 defeat in a match that took 66 minutes.

Elswhere, there were victories for Bojana Jovanovski, Marian Bartoli and Klara Zakopalova - while Shahar Peer was among the more notable losses as she was routed by Ukraine's Elina Svitolina.

Meanwhile at the third event going on this week, the ASB Classic in Aukland, seeds Christina McHale and Yanina Wickmayer both eased into the second round - but there was a surprise defeat for Jie Zheng against Jamie Hampton.

Svetlana Kuznetsova was another player to taste defeat on Monday, the Russian taking Kiki Bertens to a third set before ultimately falling 6-7(5) 6-2 7-5.

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