Samantha Stosur’s dismal Asian campaign has come to an end with a third successive first-round exit at the Hong Kong Open.
The world No.26 slumped to a 6-3 6-4 defeat to Japan’s Nao Hibino – a player ranked 40 places below the Queenslander.
Fourth seeded Stosur saved multiple match points in the second set before finally succumbing after putting a return wide of the line to hand the Hibino her first victory over the former US Open champion
World No.1 Angelique Kerber has kick-started her final week in Asia with a 6-4 6-4 defeat of Greek Maria Sakkari to power into the second round.
The German, who was a runner-up in this competition a year ago, is trying to escape the third-round rut where she stalled over the previous two weeks in Wuhan and Beijing.
The 28-year-old who seized the top WTA ranking from Serena Williams at the US Open, spent just over an hour in going past her 97th-ranked opponent, breaking four times, double-faulting on a match point but coming good moment later with a backhand winner.
“I’m trying to go as far as possible this week,” said the German, “I had never played my opponent, and that makes it tough. It will be the same in my next match. But in the end I have to focus on my game.”,
She next plays American Louisa Dechirico for a quarter-final place.
Caroline Wozniacki, seeded fifth, continued a comeback season after missing two months in the spring with an ankle injury.
The former world No.1 advanced to the second round at Victoria Park over China’s Zheng Saisai, 6-1 6-4, but found herself battling to get the job done in straight sets.
“I should have closed it out leading 5-2,” the Dane said. “It got a little too close at the end. That’s not what I was hoping for, but in the end I got the win.”
Defending champion Jelena Jankovic is another player trying to bury memories of an injury-plagued 2016, with the Serb seventh seed posting a 6-3, 6-1 defeat of American Samantha Crawford.
Britain’s Heather Watson started with a defeat of New Zealander Marina Erakovic 7-5 7-6 (11-9) while American Bethanie Mattek-Sands advanced past Basak Eraydin of Turkey 6-1 6-2.
French sixth seed Caroline Garcia defeated Czech Tereza Martincova 6-3 6-0.