SPORTS

Defending champion Vinci reaches 2nd round in St. Petersburg

  • Roberta Vinci of Italy returns the ball to Timea Babos of Hungary during the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy-2017 tennis tournament final match in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

    Roberta Vinci of Italy returns the ball to Timea Babos of Hungary during the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy-2017 tennis tournament final match in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)  (The Associated Press)

  • Roberta Vinci of Italy returns the ball to Timea Babos of Hungary during the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy-2017 tennis tournament final match in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

    Roberta Vinci of Italy returns the ball to Timea Babos of Hungary during the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy-2017 tennis tournament final match in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)  (The Associated Press)

  • Timea Babos of Hungary returns the ball to Roberta Vinci of Italy during the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy-2017 tennis tournament final match in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

    Timea Babos of Hungary returns the ball to Roberta Vinci of Italy during the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy-2017 tennis tournament final match in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)  (The Associated Press)

Roberta Vinci started the defense of her St. Petersburg Ladies' Trophy title with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win over Timea Babos on Tuesday.

The sixth-seeded Italian was broken five times but still advanced to face either German veteran Andrea Petkovic or Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania in the second round.

Also Tuesday, Kristina Mladenovic of France beat Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens 7-6 (5), 6-4 and will next face Australian Open finalist Venus Williams.

Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan also advanced, leading 6-1, 1-0 when Swedish opponent Johanna Larsson retired from the match. Putintseva will next face Annika Beck of Germany.