WELLINGTON: The top two seeds Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic were shock first round losers in the WTA Auckland Classic on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
Williams, 35, the tournament top seed and defending champion, was beaten in three sets by 18-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina, while Ivanovic went down in straight sets to British qualifier Naomi Broady.
On a day when the big names struggled, another former world number one Caroline Wozniacki made it through to the second round but with an unconvincing display against the world number 57 Danka Kovinic.
Williams made an uncharacteristic 73 unforced errors against Kasatkina and after battling to take the first set 7-6 in a tiebreak she dropped the next two 3-6, 3-6.
In the third set, Williams opened up a 3-1 lead before losing five straight games to former French Open junior champion Kasatkina.
Broady, who only learned Monday she was in the main draw after coming through the qualifying tournament, fired down 14 aces to overpower Ivanovic 7-5, 6-4, winning the second set and match on a service break.
Tournament third-seed Woz-niacki, who was beaten by Williams in the final last year, moved into the second round with a straight sets win over Montenegro’s Kovinic.
However, the win was not as comfortable as the 6-4, 6-4 scoreline indicated with Wozniacki down four games in the first set before reeling off seven straight games.
When the Dane appeared to be in command going into the second set, Kovinic fought back to break her service twice before Wozniacki regained control.
“It wasn’t a great start for me,” Wozniacki said.
“Then I won seven games in a row and felt like it was getting there, but it’s always tough with the first match of the season.”
Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion was shown an early exit after a marathon three setter against Austria’s Tamira Paszek.
Schiavone made 28 unforced errors and served 12 double faults before going down 7-6, 4-6, 6-3.