• WTA

Mixed news for Watson & Robson, victory for Serena

ESPN staff
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Heather Watson only played one set against Sorana Cirstea © Getty Images
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The opening day of 2013 brought contrasting fortunes for the two leading lights of British women's tennis, with Heather Watson triumphant in Auckland while Laura Robson was beaten in China.

Watson entered the new season ranked four places higher than her compatriot, currently inside the world's top 50 at No. 49. She will look to boost her status at the ASB Classic, where she now awaits the second round.

Sorana Cirstea, the tournament's fifth seed, provided Watson's opposition on Tuesday, but she did not last the course as the Brit took the first set before Cirstea retired.

Watson will know that an improved first-serve success rate over the next 12 months will significantly aid her chances of attacking the top 20, and she made a good start by getting 71 per cent of her first deliveries on target.

The only two break chances of the opening set both fell to the youngster, and she took one of them to lead 6-3. Cirstea never emerged for the second stanza, allowing Watson to set up a match with Kiki Bertens, who beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7(5) 6-2 7-5.

Elsewhere in the draw, Agnieszka Radwanska is the favourite for the title, the top seed beating Greta Arn 6-2 6-2 in her first round encounter. Second seed Julia Goerges is also through.

At the Shenzhen Open, Robson was well beaten by Monica Niculescu, who is ranked five places beneath her in the world rankings. The Brit was seeded seventh for the tournament, but lost 6-2 6-3.

There were few positives to take for Robson, who served poorly - coughing up four double-faults - and was broken on four occasions. By contrast, she failed to take either of her two opportunities on the Niculescu delivery.

Li Na is the tournament's top seed and wasted little time in disposing of Mandy Minella 6-4 6-0 in 64 minutes.

The Brisbane International saw Serena Williams in powerful form as she blitzed past Alize Cornet 6-2 6-2. The third seed needed exactly an hour to advance to round three, moving closer to a potential semi-final collision with world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.

Two other seeds tumbled from the draw as No. 6 Petra Kvitova lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, while No. 5 Sara Errani suffered at the hands of Daniela Hantuchova.

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