Defending champion out in ASB first round

Associated Press

Auckland, January 4:

Eleni Daniilidou’s bid for a third straight singles title at the ASB Women’s Classic tennis tournament ended when she was beaten 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 by Mara Santangelo of Italy in the first round.

The third-seeded Greek player had an unbeaten singles record in Auckland stretching over two years. Santangelo kept steady pressure on Daniilidou, who seemed hampered by a shoulder injury, and took the match with an ace on her second match point.

Three seeded players lost on Tuesday. Daniilidou was preceded out of the first round by sixth-seeded Kristina Brandi of Puerto Rico and eighth-seeded Alina Jidkova of Russia. Seventh-seeded Maria Vento-Kabchi of Venezuela was beaten in first-round match.

Brandi and Jidkova both lost to Slovakian opponents, Jidkova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to Katarina Srebotnik and Brandi 6-1, 6-2 to Janette Husarova. Second-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia advanced with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Claudine Schaul of Luxembourg and fourth-seeded Shinobu Asagoe of Japan beat Tatiana Perebiynis of Russia 6-4, 6-1.

New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic caused one of the day’s upsets when she came from one set and 3-5 down to beat Marie-eve Pelletier of Canada 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Jill Craybas of the United States beat lucky loser Meilen Tu of the United States 6-2, 6-2.

Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic, Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain and Shahar Peer of Israel also advanced to the second round.

Australian hardcourt

ADELAIDE: Top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt opened his 2005 singles season with a victory over French qualifier Arnaud Clement, a 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 decision in a first-round match at the Australian men’s hardcourt tennis championships.

Hewitt had a series of early unforced errors to drop four consecutive games in the first set. But he found his rhythm to race through the final two sets, taking the final five games of the second set and serving the set out with an ace.

He produced a well-placed backhand lob to break Clement in the opening game of the third set and kept the momentum his way, winning 11 of the final 12 games.

Earlier, Sweden’s Joachim Johansson beat Australian Marc Kimmich 6-2, 6-4. Taylor Dent beat fellow American Robby Ginepri 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.

Dent’s dominance at the net proved the difference. Fifth-seeded Dent will now play Frenchman Julien Benneteau while Johansson will meet Belgian Xavier Malisse. Benneteau advanced with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Italian Potito Starace and Malisse downed Spain’s Alberto Martin 6-2, 7-6.