Heather Watson wins first round Hobart tie in straight sets

Heather Watson plays a forehand during her first-round match against Teliana Pereira yesterday. Picture: Getty

Heather Watson plays a forehand during her first-round match against Teliana Pereira yesterday. Picture: Getty

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Heather Watson eased through the first round of the Hobart International with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Brazil’s Teliana Pereira.

The British No 2 won the first set but she did not have it all her own way against a player ranked seven places above her at 46th in the world.

Watson broke serve twice but faced ten break points on her own serve. Pereira was only able to convert one of them.

Guernsey’s Watson broke in the opening game of the second set and again in the third, and a hard-fought hold took her 4-0 up.

Yet another break followed – Pereira won just 35 per cent of points on her first serve in the set – and Watson served out a comprehensive victory.

Watson next faces fourth seed Monica Niculescu after the Romanian beat the United States’ Christina McHale 7-5, 7-5.

Fellow Brit Johanna Konta, however, is still waiting for her first win of the 2016 season after she went out in Tasmania with a first-round defeat by Dominika Cibulkova. The British No 1 one slipped to a 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 loss, but she will be regretting missed chances as she wasted five first-set points and failed to capitalise on three breaks of Cibulkova’s serve in the second.

It looked like being a far more routine defeat for Australia-born Konta as she lost the first four games of the match, struggling to cope with the third seed’s power from the baseline. But, from 5-1 down, she mounted an impressive recovery to take the first set to a tie-break, which she then bossed, taking a commanding 6-1 lead. However, a capitulation allowed Cibulkova to reel off seven successive points to take the breaker 8/6.

The second set contained seven breaks of serve, Konta breaking to go 2-0 and 3-1 ahead, but each time she conceded her own serve straight away before another exchange of breaks made it 5-5.

Cibulkova got a vital fourth break in the 11th game, coming back from 40-0, to leave her serving for the match. Konta forced 0-30, but the Slovakian served it out to book her place in the second round.

Eugenie Bouchard and seeds Dominika Cibulkova and Monica Niculescu were among the first-round winners on day one in Hobart. But Madison Brengle and Barbora Strycova, seeded fifth and sixth respectively, slumped out of the tournament, the former after retiring due to a respiratory illness when trailing 6-0, 1-1. Strycova lost 6-4, 6-4 to Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.

Unseeded Bouchard, who has dropped to 47th in the world rankings following a 2015 disrupted by a serious concussion, enjoyed a routine 6-2, 6-1 win over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Australian wild card Kimberly Birrell, ranked 341st in the world, produced a notable result when she beat world number 55 Danka Kovinic 6-4, 6-3.

Ninth seed Mona Barthel won 6-4, 6-4 against Misaki Doi and there were wins for fellow German Annika Beck, Japanese pair Naomi Osaka and Nao Hibino and Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg.

Sara Errani dumped seventh seed Carla Suarez Navarro out of the Apia International.

The Italian won 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 27 minutes to join a very strong unseeded contingent in the second round.

Home favourite Sam Stosur beat Errani’s compatriot and 2015 US Open runner-up Roberta Vinci 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in more than two and a half hours while there was simpler straight-sets progress for Sabine Lisicki, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Ekaterina Makarova.

The two seeded players in action other than Suarez Navarro both progressed as Angelique Kerber came from a set down to beat Elina Svitolina 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 and Belinda Bencic saw off Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 7-6 (8/6), 1-6, 6-4.

Qualifier Monica Puig beat lucky loser Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

Meanwhile, seventh seed Ivo Karlovic was the most notable casualty as the ASB Classic began in Auckland yesterday.

The Croatian was beaten 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 by Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, with the only break of serve coming in Karlovic’s final service game.

With Karlovic the only seed in action, the stage was left to qualifiers led by Dutch pair Thiemo de Bakker and Robin Haase. Both players saw off Spanish opponents, Haase a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Pablo Andujar while De Bakker beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4. Australia’s Matthew Barton won 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 against American Steve Johnson.

Jack Sock triumphed 6-0, 6-4 against Victor Estrella Burgos and was joined in round two by fellow American Donald Young, who beat Australian wild card Finn Tearney 6-2, 6-3.

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