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Stosur to shoulder tough Brisbane start

The Samantha Stosur jinx at home has continued after copping an unwelcome first-up draw against her French Open nemesis.

Stosur will start the new year with a tough match against Spanish world No.7 Garbine Muguruza on Monday, desperate to turn around her fortunes at the Brisbane International while also battling a shoulder problem.

The Queenslander has been an underwhelming disappointment at her home tournament, where she’s won just four matches in six visits – rocking annual preparations for the Australian Open.

The oldest player in the women’s field at 32, Stosur will be unseeded in Brisbane after a rollercoaster 2016 where she finished with six straight defeats.

The highlight was a semi-final finish at the French Open where Muguruza wiped the 2011 US Open champion off Roland Garros 6-2 6-4, before going on to upset Serena Williams in the final.

“It is going to be tough,” Stosur said after Saturday’s draw. “It’s definitely not going to be easy for me but I don’t necessarily think it’s going to be easy for her as well.

“I know I will have to play very well to win.”

Despite the world No.21’s recent form and home tournament troubles, Muguruza is more than wary.

“She’s very powerful, she hits very hard and serves very well and has a lot of talent,” the fourth seed said.

“She is always a difficult opponent and she’s here at home.”

Now under the guidance of former Davis Cup coach Josh Eagle, Stosur says she’s ready to go after working hard to overcome a niggling shoulder joint she will have taped.

Although temperatures are hitting the mid-30s in Brisbane, Stosur can’t expect too much advantage with Muguruza declaring her love for the heat.

The victor would set themselves on path for a likely quarter-final against world No.9 Svetlana Kutznetsova, one of five top-10 players in the quality 30-strong field.

The other Australian woman in the women’s tournament, comeback kid Ashleigh Barty, has a far friendlier first-round match as she will play a qualifier first up at Pat Rafter Arena.

But victory would pit the talented 20-year-old, who has returned to tennis after a stint in cricket, against world No.1 Angelique Kerber in the second round.

Slovakian second seed Dominika Cibulkova also has a first-round bye while Czech world No.6 Karolina Pliskova, who lost to Kerber in this year’s US Open final, will be a hot favourite against Kazak Yulia Putintseva.

Melbourne 16-year-old Destanee Aiava, already boasting a wildcard into the Australian Open, continued a month to remember by winning her second qualifying match on Saturday.

Aiavaa defeated Spaniard Maria Martinez Sanchez 6-2 6-0 and will Sunday face German Carina Witthoeft for a place in the main draw.

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