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Robson falls at first hurdle at Hobart International

ESPN staff
January 6, 2013 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »

Laura Robson's poor start to 2013 continued at the Hobart International on Sunday, where she lost in the first round to Sloane Stephens.

Robson began the year by crashing out of the Shenzhen Open in the second round, and she suffered another early loss in Australia, losing 6-4 7-6(4) to Stephens.

In fairness to the Brit, she was facing a player ranked 15 places above her in the WTA rankings, but back-to-back losses is hardly ideal preparation for next week's Australian Open.

The Hobart tournament was Robson's last warm-up before the first grand slam of the year, but she will have to spend the week sharpening her game in practice following Sunday's loss.

Robson is unlikely to be too discouraged by her performance, though, having created six break points to Stephens' three in the contest. She was desperately close to forcing the match to a third set, and her frequently fragile serve looked solid.

British No. 1 Heather Watson had been scheduled to feature in the tournament but withdrew earlier in the week due to an elbow injury.

At the Apia International in Sydney, Caroline Wozniacki secured a much needed boost for her confidence, beating Urszula Radwanska 6-1 6-2 to advance to the second round.

Like Robson, Wozniacki suffered an early exit in her first tournament of the year at the Brisbane International, so court time is required in Sydney ahead of the Australian Open. She overcame Radwanska in an hour and 14 minutes and will now meet the winner of Svetlana Kuznetsova v Julia Goerges.

"It was quite hot out there, especially towards the end of the second set you could really feel it was starting to heat up," the former world No. 1 said. "I'm just happy to get the first win of the season under my belt and just move on."

Elsewhere, world No. 8 Petra Kvitova suffered a setback as she was thrashed 6-1 6-1 by Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova. "I played really badly and I wish I knew what I could say but I don't," Kvitova said.

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