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Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open

Top seeds all up and running at Hong Kong Tennis Open, as Wozniacki slams Bouchard

Venus Williams, Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki join Agnieszka Radwanska in round two after opening wins

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 11:12pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 October, 2017, 9:55am

There was very little in the way of upsets on day two of the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open on Tuesday as the four top seeds came through their opening matches unscathed.

Just as she did in the first round 12 months ago, an evergreen Venus Williams brushed aside Japan’s Risa Ozaki to claim an easy 6-2, 6-2 win.

The 37-year-old, a perennial crowd favourite at Victoria Park, needed just 75 minutes to stave off the challenge of the world number 95 on centre court.

“I played her in the first round last year so, although I didn’t know too much about her game, I knew she was a good retriever and she could play some offence when she wanted to,” Williams said afterwards.

The world number five was at her dominant best in wrapping up the opening set inside 40 minutes as her opponent struggled with an apparent back injury, which required a lengthy medical timeout at 5-2.

The American has enjoyed a fantastic 2017 in which she reached the finals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon as well as the semi-finals of the US Open. And she sent down seven aces on her way to the second round of the US$500,000 event here, where she will again meet a Japanese opponent in the shape of Naomi Osaka.

Later, number one seed this week Elina Svitolina was made to work harder for her ticket to round two by world number 62 Zarina Diyas. But as she has done on so many occasions this season, the 23-year-old dug deep and ensured that she progressed 6-4, 7-6 in front of an excited centre court crowd.

Svitolina, who has won the most tournaments on the WTA tour this season with five titles to her name, was given a stiff challenge by a game Diyas who broke and held to take an early 3-0 lead in the opening set. But Svitolina fought back well claiming two breaks of serve herself on her way to a 6-4 first set win.

“It was quite a tough draw for me,” Svitolina said. “I know Zarina plays good tennis and I knew it was going to be tough. I was very happy I won in two sets.”

The two had come head-to-head only once before, at the China Open in Beijing in 2011 where Diyas took the honours, but their renewal was an enthralling encounter. And the Kazakhstani, who came through a strong field to claim a maiden WTA title at the Japan Women’s Open in Tokyo last month, gave a fine account of herself against the world number four.

Afterwards, Svitolina revealed she had been playing with an injured groin, but never considered pulling out of the event.

Venus Williams sparkles as she cruises past Japan’s Ozaki into round two of the Hong Kong Tennis Open

“It was quite tough today because I got injured after my third round match in Beijing [last week] and then had a three-and-a-half hour match,” Svitolina said.

“When I went for wide shots and stretched it, it hurt,” Svitolina said. “I’m gonna have a scan and see how it is ahead of [the WTA Finals in] Singapore.

“I really wanted to play here. I heard lots of things about how it’s such an amazing crowd here. I couldn’t pull out. It’s very special to play in this kind of tournament.”

The second and final set was another attritional battle, but the Ukrainian barely managed to outlast 23-year-old Diyas and claimed the win on a tiebreak after neither player managed to hold serve in the final three games.

In the day’s final match, defending champion Caroline Wozniacki thrashed Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets after an error-strewn showing from the Canadian.

Local hero Zhang Ling swiftly dumped out of Hong Kong Tennis Open by ruthless Radwanska

“It was a great start, I felt like I played pretty well,” Wozniacki said. “I tried to stay aggressive and make her feel pressured and pushed back, and it worked pretty well.

“I’m playing well and I felt like I was in control out there and just kept my focus.”

The Dane, who was a recent winner at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo and has been a beaten finalist on no less than six occasions this season, put the disappointing Bouchard to the sword 6-1, 6-1 in just 58 minutes.

“She played really well and was very solid and didn’t give me much of a chance,” said Bouchard when asked what went wrong.

“The conditions here are tough – I’m someone who sweats a lot, but I prefer this than cold.”

WEDNESDAY’S ORDER OF PLAY

Centre court

From 3pm

Shelby Rogers (US) vs [7] Daria Gavrilova (Australia)

Naomi Osaka (Japan) vs [2] Venus Williams (US)

Not before 7pm

Samantha Stosur (Australia) vs [4] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)

Eugenie Bouchard (Canada)/ Shelby Rogers (US) vs Julia Glushko (Israel)/Priscilla Hon (Australia)

Court one

From 3pm

Lu Jiajing (China)/Qiang Wang (China) vs [3] Makoto Ninomiya (Japan)/Renata Voracova (Czech Republic)

Not before 4pm

[6] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) vs Jacqueline Cako (US)

[1] Chan Hao-ching (Taiwan)/ Chan Yung-jan (Taiwan) vs Zarina Diyas (Kazakhstan)/Misa Eguchi (Japan)

Jacqueline Cako (US)/Valeria Savinykh (Russia) vs Monique Adamczak (Australia)/Chang Kai-chen (Taiwan)