Published January 13, 2015
Sara Errani of Italy and China's Li Na were among the first-round winners Monday at the Sydney International, but Aussie favorite Samantha Stosur was shown another early exit in her native country.
Stosur will enter the Australian Open next week off consecutive first-round losses to start the year. She was beaten by Sofia Arvidsson last week in Brisbane and on Monday suffered a 6-3, 6-7 (7-9), 6-4 setback to China's Zheng Jie.
The pressure will again be on Stosur next week as the former U.S. Open champ tries to end the considerable struggles at her home Grand Slam. Her best results in seven previous visits to Melbourne are a pair of fourth-round appearances.
Last year, the burden may have been too much. After claiming her first career major championship at Flushing Meadows to conclude the 2011 Grand Slam season, Stosur had a first-round flameout at Melbourne Park.
Errani and Li, meanwhile, advanced Monday with straight-set wins.
The third-seeded Errani, who last year won four WTA titles and reached the final at the French Open, posted a 6-1, 6-3 win over Czech Karolina Pliskova and the fourth-seeded Li was a 7-6 (7-2), 7-5 winner over American Christina McHale.
Li arrived in Sydney only a day earlier after capturing the season-opening title in Shenzhen.
"The jet lag -- it was tough today," said Li. "Yesterday, my coach told me the most important match was today because it really wasn't about technique, it was about challenging my mind to show how strong I am on the court."
Li, the 2011 Sydney champ, will next face Japanese qualifier Ayumi Morita, who rallied past Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Four other qualifiers also advanced, including two-time Grand Slam champ Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian veteran, playing in her second event after recovering from a knee injury, roared back from a set down to earn a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Germany's Julia Goerges. She'll next play former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, a first-round winner on Sunday.
American qualifier Madison Keys pulled off a stunner with a 6-2, 6-1 rout of Czech veteran Lucie Safarova, while Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva and Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm and were the other qualifiers to advance. Voskoboeva claimed a 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 win over Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer, who was coming off a runner-up finish in Auckland, and Date-Krumm disappointed the home crowd with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Aussie native Casey Dellacqua.
Voskoboeva will face second-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany in round two and Date-Krumm will play top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland. Both top seeds received first-round byes. Radwanska beat Wickmayer in the Auckland final this past weekend.
Former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and Italy's Roberta Vinci were also winners Monday. Jankovic came away with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Austria's Tamira Paszek and will next face Vinci, who eliminated eighth-seeded Russian Nadia Petrova, 7-5, 7-5.