ADELAIDE (Reuters) -Former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova made a stuttering start to her 2023 season in the opening round of the Adelaide International 2 on Tuesday, shaking off the rust in a 6-2 7-6(3) victory over Alison Riske-Amritraj.
The 27-year-old Czech, a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open last year, was one of the form players on the WTA Tour in the latter end of last season after she returned from an elbow injury to win titles at Tallinn and Ostrava.
The former world number two was clearly not at her very best against the American lucky loser and needed a tiebreak to finally finish off her opponent after being broken when serving for the match.
World number nine Veronika Kudermetova is another player who came into the new season with high expectations and she showed why when she rallied from 3-0 down in the second set tiebreak to beat Victoria Azarenka 2-6 7-6(4) 6-4.
Azarenka needed treatment on a sore neck in the third set but Kudermetova had to battle it out for nearly three hours in sweltering heat to beat the twice Australian Open champion.
“I am really happy with this win,” said the 25-year-old Russian. “Vika is a Grand Slam champion and for me, it is very important to play that kind of player and beat them.
“With every win, I get a little bit more confidence.”
The 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko had a less successful day, going down 6-3 6-4 to Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya.
Spain’s Paula Badosa, the 2021 French Open quarter-finalist, defeated Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-4 6-3 and set up a last-16 meeting with Kaia Kanepi, who earlier beat Australian Storm Hunter.
Former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin was in action at the other warm-up for the year’s first Grand Slam and looked in good touch as she beat China’s Zhu Lin 6-2 6-2 in the opening round of the Hobart International.
The 24-year-old won her first WTA title in Hobart in 2019 and returned to Australia the following year to claim a Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park.
Little has gone right for the one-time prodigy since with illness, injury and off-court issues precipitating a tumble down the world rankings.
“I feel like I’m getting there,” Kenin, now ranked 143rd, added. “I’m happy with the way I’m starting. Knock on wood I’m healthy, injury-free, so I’m just going to continue doing my best.”
It was a bad day for two other former Hobart champions with French third seed Alize Cornet crashing out in a 6-4 6-2 loss to Elisabetta Cocciaretto and 2017 and 2018 champion Elise Mertens losing 6-4 6-4 to qualifier Maryna Zanevska.
The Australian Open begins on Monday.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Christopher Cushing, William Maclean, Christian Radnedge)