Stosur holds on; Vesnina falls in Hobart

Hobart, Australia ( - Top-seeded long-time Aussie crowd favorite Sam Stosur barely reached the quarterfinals, while defending champion Elena Vesnina suffered a second-round upset Wednesday at the Hobart International tennis event, a final hardcourt Australian Open tune-up.

The former U.S. Open titlist Stosur snuck past France's Kristina Mladenovic 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (9-7), while Spanish qualifier Estrella Cabeza Candela was beating the third-seeded Vesnina 4-6, 6-2, 4-1 when the Russian retired in the third set.

Vesnina topped German and 2012 titlist Mona Barthel in last year's Hobart finale.

Meanwhile, second-seeded Belgian Kirsten Flipkens overcame Aussie wild card Storm Sanders 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5) on Day 4 at Hobart International Tennis Centre.

Also on Wednesday, Romanian Monica Niculescu upended a sixth-seeded Barthel 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, seventh-seeded Czech Klara Zakopalova whipped Chinese Zhang Shuai 6-1, 6-2, and Spanish qualifier Garbine Muguruza was leading Yanina Wickmayer 4-1 in the opening set when the 2012 Hobart runner-up from Belgium retired.

Thursday's quarterfinals will pit Stosur against eighth-seeded Serb Bojana Jovanovski, Flipkens versus Muguruza, Zakopalova against American Riske, and Niculescu versus Cabeza Candela.