First-round play at the 2016 Brisbane International continued on Monday and the first WTA Premier tournament of the new year continues to pick up pace after Sunday’s start of the new season!
Monday didn’t turn out to be a very promising day for Australia’s youngsters, since local favorites Ajla Tomljanovic & Priscilla Hon both lost their opening matches. Tomljanovic lost her first-round encounter against Carla Suarez-Navarro in a straightforward fashion, hampered by an injury that will most likely cause the Croatia-born Aussie to miss out on playing Sydney.
Priscilla Hon lost her match to American Samantha Crawford. The 17-year-old Australian talent played one of her first WTA main draw appearances, preparing herself for her Australian Open main draw start after winning the AO playoffs.
With two of the Aussies out, the pressure suddenly was on Sam Stosur to save the day. Stosur traditionally struggles with performing at home and Monday was no exception as the popular Australian fell behind Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova in the first set. Facing another early loss in Australia, Stosur rallied back to win a drama-filled three-setter that was too close to call until the final game was played, giving the patriotic Brisbane crowd plenty to cheer about.
Belinda Bencic had much less of a dramatic day. The quickly-rising Swiss sensation won her first match of 2016 in a dominant fashion, getting past Italy’s Sara Errani in just 55 minutes. Angelique Kerber joins Bencic in the second round, after overcoming a dropped first set against Italy’s Camila Giorgi.
In the evening, Victoria Azarenka kicked off her 2016 season, playing qualifier Elena Vesnina. Last year in Brisbane, Azarenka lost what was a dramatic first-round match against Pliskova, blowing a comfortable lead against the Czech player. On Monday, Azarenka fared much better, taking firm control over Vesnina after a bit of a rusty start into the match, allowing the Russian to take away only two games as Azarenka delivered an almost flawless performance in the second set, exciting the Brisbane crowd.
The first-round of the 2016 Brisbane International will wrap up on Tuesday and 2015 champion Maria Sharapova is due to play her first match, facing off with fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova. Keep checking back to Women’s Tennis Blog for all the latest from Brisbane!