Kerber into Sydney quarters; Stephens recovers to advance

SYDNEY, Australia — Defending champion Angelique Kerber moved into the Sydney International quarterfinals after beating Camila Giorgi 7-6 (3), 6-2 on Tuesday.

The second-ranked Kerber was under serious pressure in the first set before holding firm in the tiebreaker, then went down an early break before winning the last six games.

After a first-round bye, the Wimbledon champion is on a 5-0 roll to start the season after winning all of her singles matches at the Hopman Cup last week.

"It's always tricky to play against her, because she's hitting the balls really hard, especially in the first set," Kerber said. "I played Perth last week, but now you have the tournament feeling again."

Sloane Stephens dropped three service games in the first set and was only two points from defeat in the second before finding a way to hold off Ekaterina Alexandrova 0-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3) for her first win of the season.

Alexandrova had a chance to serve for the match at 5-3 in the second set and led 4-2 in the third but fourth-seeded Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, rallied to survive the round.

"I was, like, 'It's not going to get any worse than this ... I might as well just play,'" Stephens said of her first set.

"I know at some point that I'd be able to win a game, I would hope, so just try and do that."

Stephens will next play Yulia Putintseva.

Ash Barty ousted 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-3 to advance to a second-round meeting with No. 1-ranked Simona Halep.

On another rain-interrupted day in Sydney, Aliaksandra Sasnovich ousted No. 8-seeded Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 6-4, 2015 Sydney champion Petra Kvitova had a 6-1, 7-5 win over Aryna Sabalenka, Hsieh Su-wei beat Danielle Collins 7-6 (4), 6-3, and Priscilla Hon defeated Tatjana Maria 6-3, 7-6 (4).

No. 7 Kiki Bertens advanced to the quarterfinals when Garbine Muguruza withdrew from the tournament because of illness.

In the men's draw, eighth-seeded Andreas Seppi advanced 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 over Jeremy Chardy, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez beat Denis Kudla 7-5, 6-4, and Andrey Rublev ousted No. 6-seeded Lucas Pouille 6-2, 6-3.

Seventh-seeded Marton Fucsovics beat James Duckworth 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and John Millman rallied to hold off Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5.

Tuesday

At Olympic Park Tennis Centre

Sydney

Purse: Men, $527,880 (ATP250); Women, $823,000 (Premier)

Surface: Hard-Outdoor

Singles

Men

First Round

Andrey Rublev, Russia, def. Lucas Pouille (6), France, 6-2, 6-3.

Andreas Seppi (8), Italy, def. Jeremy Chardy, France, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Spain, def. Denis Kudla, United States, 7-5, 6-4.

John Millman, Australia, def. Frances Tiafoe, United States, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5.

Marton Fucsovics (7), Hungary, def. James Duckworth, Australia, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Second Round

Jordan Thompson, Australia, def. Taro Daniel, Japan, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0.

Alex de Minaur (5), Australia, leads Reilly Opelka, United States, 1-0, susp.

Women

First Round

Petra Kvitova (5), Czech Republic, def. Aryna Sabalenka, Belarus, 6-1, 7-5.

Ashleigh Barty, Australia, def. Jelena Ostapenko, Latvia, 6-3, 6-3.

Sloane Stephens (4), United States, def. Ekaterina Alexandrova, Russia, 0-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3).

Priscilla Hon, Australia, def. Tatjana Maria, Germany, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Belarus, def. Daria Kasatkina (8), Russia, 6-1, 6-4.

Hsieh Su-wei, Taiwan, def. Danielle Collins, United States, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Monica Puig, Puerto Rico, leads Anett Kontaveit, Estonia, 5-2, susp.

Elise Mertens (10), Belgium, leads Katerina Siniakova, Czech Republic, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 4-1, susp.

Second Round

Angelique Kerber (2), Germany, def. Camila Giorgi, Italy, 7-6 (3), 6-2.

Doubles

Men

First Round

Martin Klizan, Slovakia, and Nicholas Monroe, United States, def. Malek Jaziri, Tunisia, and Marc Lopez, Spain, walkover.

Jamie Murray, Britain, and Bruno Soares (2), Brazil, def. Santiago Gonzalez, Mexico, and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, Pakistan, 6-4, 6-4.

Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (1), Colombia, def. Roman Jebavy, Czech Republic, and Andres Molteni, Argentina, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Ivan Dodig, Croatia, and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, France, def. Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan, India, 6-2, 6-4.

Matthew Ebden, Australia, and Robert Lindstedt, Sweden, def. Maximo Gonzalez, Argentina, and Nicolas Jarry, Chile, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (1).

Alex Bolt and Matt Reid, Australia, def. Dusan Lajovic, Serbia, and Andreas Seppi, Italy, 6-3, 7-6 (6).

Women

First Round

Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Germany, and Vania King, United States, def. Nicole Melichar, United States, and Kveta Peschke (2), Czech Republic, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 10-7.

Gabriela Dabrowski, Canada, and Xu Yifan (1), China, def. Raquel Atawo, United States, and Katarina Srebotnik, Slovenia, 6-4, 4-6, 11-9.

Miyu Kato and Makoto Ninomiya, Japan, def. Shuko Aoyama, Japan, and Lidziya Marozava, Belarus, 6-3, 6-4.

Andreja Klepac, Slovenia, and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (3), Spain, def. Priscilla Hon and Ajla Tomljanovic, Australia, 7-5, 3-6, 10-8.

Eri Hozumi, Japan, and Alicja Rosolska, Poland, def. Oksana Kalashnikova, Georgia, and Tatjana Maria, Germany, 7-5, 6-3.

Bencic follows Hopman Cup win with tough 1st-round in Hobart

HOBART, Australia — Belinda Bencic has followed up her title at the Hopman Cup with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over second-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu in the first round of the Hobart International.

Bencic, who combined with Roger Federer to win the international mixed teams event in Perth, Western Australia, on the weekend, kept up her successful start to the season in Australia's southern island state.

The third set contained nine service breaks, including seven straight, as blustery conditions made it difficult for both players. Bencic had two match points in the 10th game of the third set but dropped serve before winning the last two games to seal her spot in the second round.

"It was an incredibly up-and-down match — very hard work," said Bencic, who dropped her racket in relief and exhaustion after clinching it on her fifth match point. "I'm a really emotional player and then the wind comes and I'm even more emotional. I feel like 'Ah, this wind is against me,' but I have to remember it is for both players."

Buzarnescu, a finalist last year at Hobart, was one of the four highest-seeded players to lose on Tuesday.

Sofia Kenin beat top-seeded Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2, third-seeded Zhang Shuai lost to Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova 6-2, 0-6, 6-2 and No. 4 Maria Sakkari was beaten 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 by Magda Linette.

"She was a top 5 player, so I knew I had to play my best to win. I tried to not act like I was nervous, even though I was," Kenin said. "I was controlling the points, I was dictating so that was a big part and I was holding serve every time, so that helps."

Seventh-seeded Kirsten Flipkens beat Dalila Jakupovic 6-4, 7-5, 2016 Hobart champion Alize Cornet opened with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Alison Bai, eighth-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck had a 7-6 (5), 7-5 win over Madison Brengle and Viktoria Kuzmova beat Timea Babos 6-3, 6-3.

Tuesday

At The Domain Tennis Centre

Hobart, Australia

Purse: $226,750 (Intl.)

Surface: Hard-Outdoor

Singles

First Round

Anna Blinkova, Russia, def. Zhang Shuai (3), China, 6-2, 0-6, 6-2.

Viktoria Kuzmova, Slovakia, def. Timea Babos, Hungary, 6-3, 6-3.

Alize Cornet (6), France, def. Alison Bai, Australia, 6-4, 6-2.

Kirsten Flipkens (7), Belgium, def. Dalila Jakupovic, Slovenia, 6-4, 7-5.

Belinda Bencic, Switzerland, def. Mihaela Buzarnescu (2), Romania, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Alison Van Uytvanck (8), Belgium, def. Madison Brengle, United States, 7-6 (5), 7-5.

Zoe Hives, Australia, def. Johanna Larsson, Sweden, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (2).

Sofia Kenin, United States, def. Caroline Garcia (1), France, 6-3, 6-2.

Magda Linette, Poland, def. Maria Sakkari (4), Greece, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Doubles

First Round

Raluca Olaru, Romania, and Galina Voskoboeva, Kazakhstan, def. Alexandra Panova, Russia, and Laura Siegemund, Germany, 6-4, 6-3.

Monica Niculescu, Romania, and Yang Zhaoxuan (3), China, def. Jiang Xinyu and Zhang Shuai, China, 6-4, 6-2.

Anastasia Potapova, Russia, and Dayana Yastremska, Ukraine, def. Alison Bai and Annerly Poulos, Australia, 6-3, 6-2.

Dalila Jakupovic, Slovenia, and Sabrina Santamaria, United States, def. Vera Lapko, Belarus, and Erin Routliffe, New Zealand, 5-7, 6-0, 13-11.

Chan Hao-ching and Latisha Chan (1), Taiwan, def. Monique Adamczak and Jessica Moore, Australia, 6-4, 7-5.

Irina-Camelia Begu and Mihaela Buzarnescu (2), Romania, def. Kaitlyn Christian, United States, and Alexa Guarachi, Chile, 1-6, 6-3, 10-8.

Ferrer beats Haase at ASB Classic in New Zealand

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Four-time champion David Ferrer opened play Tuesday in ASB Classic with a 6-2, 6-1 first-round win over Robin Haase.

The 36-year-old Ferrer said before Tuesday's match that this is his last season on the ATP Tour and he will not be returning as a competitor to a tournament that he won in 2007 and in three straight years from 2011 to 2013.

"I'm really happy because winning today means I will have a chance to play one more match again on this court," Ferrer said. "It's very emotional for me to be here."

Ferrer had good reason to enjoy himself Tuesday. Ferrer broke Haase's serve in the third, fifth and seventh games of the first set and didn't drop a point on his own serve until the sixth game when Haase broke back.

In the eighth game, Ferrer took set point with an ace, gave it up with his only double fault of the match and served out the set in just half an hour.

He was quickly on top again in the second set, breaking Haase in the third game, again the fifth and clinching the set and match against serve in the seventh.

In other matches Tuesday, sixth seeded Hyung Cheong fell 7-5, 6-3 to New Zealand wild-card Rubin Statham, and Argentina's Leonard Mayer beat American Steven Johnson by the same score. Peter Gojowczyk of Germany beat Guido Pella of Argentina 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.

Tuesday

At ASB Tennis Arena

Auckland, New Zealand

Purse: $527,880 (ATP250)

Surface: Hard-Outdoor

Singles

First Round

Leonardo Mayer, Argentina, def. Steve Johnson (9), United States, 7-5, 6-3.

David Ferrer, Spain, def. Robin Haase, Netherlands, 6-2, 6-1.

Peter Gojowczyk, Germany, def. Guido Pella, Argentina, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

Rubin Statham, New Zealand, def. Chung Hyeon (6), South Korea, 7-5, 6-3.

Ugo Humbert, France, def. Pablo Cuevas, Uruguay, 7-5, 6-1.

Doubles

First Round

Ben Mclachlan, Japan, and Jan-Lennard Struff, Germany, def. Lukasz Kubot, Poland, and Horacio Zeballos, Argentina, 7-6 (5), 2-6, 10-7.

Oliver Marach, Austria, and Mate Pavic (1), Croatia, def. Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini, Italy, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 10-4.

Henri Kontinen, Finland, and Frederik Nielsen, Denmark, def. Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop, Netherlands, 3-6, 6-4, 10-8.

Guido Pella, Argentina, and Joao Sousa, Portugal, def. Cameron Norrie, Britain, and Rubin Statham, New Zealand, 6-4, 6-2.

Raven Klassen, South Africa, and Michael Venus (3), New Zealand, def. Dominic Inglot, Britain, and Franko Skugor, Croatia, 6-3, 6-3.