Monday, 07 January 2013 16:20
SYDNEY: Former champion Li Na and Zheng Jie starred on a successful day for Asian players on Monday at the Sydney International, the last major lead-in tournament to next week's Australian Open.
Fourth seed Li had a straight sets victory over American Christina McHale, while fellow Chinese world number 42 Zheng upset Australia's big hope Samantha Stosur in the night match in three sets.
But it wasn't plain sailing for Li, who came from an early break down to beat McHale 7-6 (7/2) 7-5 in two hours to set up a second round meeting with Japanese qualifier Ayumi Morita.
Li, who won the Shenzhen Open title last week, had her breakthrough year in 2011 where she won in Sydney before reaching the Australian Open final and going on to win the French Open.
Morita continued the Asian success when she fought back after dropping the opening set to oust Slovak Daniela Hantuchova 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Zheng, who became the first Chinese player to reach a grand slam semi-final at Wimbledon in 2008, continued Stosur's miserable run in home tournaments with a 6-3, 6-7 (7/9), 6-4 victory.
It was the 2011 US Open champion Stosur's fifth consecutive loss in Australia and she will head to Melbourne for the Australian Open starting next Monday well underdone after playing just two matches since undergoing minor ankle surgery six weeks ago.
Zheng's next opponent will be American qualifier Madison Keys.
Japanese qualifier Kimiko Date-Krumm, at 42 the oldest singles player on the WTA Tour, knocked Australian Casey Dellacqua out of the Sydney tournament, 6-4, 6-1.
Elsewhere, Italian third seed Sara Errani progressed to the second round with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Czech qualifier Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 6-3.
Errani will now take on Russian starlet Maria Kirilenko, a 7-5, 6-2 first-round winner over Australian Olivia Rogowska on Sunday.
Former world number one Jelena Jankovic eliminated Austrian Tamira Paszek 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) and will play Italian Roberta Vinci for a quarter-final berth.
Vinci upset Russian eighth seed Nadia Petrova 7-5 7-5.
In the men's tournament, Spanish eighth seed Marcel Granollers defeated Australian Matthew Ebden 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 while Australian James Duckworth blew an early break in the deciding set against Uzbek Denis Istomin before going out 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).
German fifth seed Florian Mayer ousted Portuguese qualifier Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-2.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013