Kuznetsova bows out in NZ

2012-12-31 09:59

Auckland - Former world No 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova stumbled to a three-set loss to unseeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in the first round of the ASB Tennis Classic on Monday.

The two-time Grand Slam winner won the first set in a tight tiebreak but struggled in windy conditions and went down 7-6 (6), 6-2, 7-5 in 2-1/2 hours.

Swirling winds on centre-court at the Auckland Tennis Centre contributed to more than 100 unforced errors, but 21-year-old Bertens, whose ranking climbed 120 places in 2012 to 63, kept her head to clinch one of her best wins.

Kuznetsova took an extended break after dropping the second set to receive treatment for a foot injury but couldn't arrest Bertens' momentum.

Pauline Parmentier of France ousted seventh-seeded American Christina McHale 6-4, 6-1 in an earlier upset.

McHale, whose ranking peaked at 24 in August before slipping to 33 at year end, also struggled to find her game in the wind. She put 73 percent of first serves in play but won only 26 of 45 first service points and saved five of nine break points.

Russia's Elena Vesnina overcame 18-year-old Canadian wildcard Eugenia Bouchard, the junior Wimbledon champion, 7-5, 6-3 in a match which was also wind-affected. There were nine service breaks in the first set - six in the first seven games - but Vesnina eventually settled to win in 95 minutes.

Third-seeded former champion Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium started her campaign with a 7-6 (3), 6-2 win over Magdalena Rybarikova.

The 2011 champion, Greta Arn of Hungary, was beaten 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 by Thailand's Nudnida Luanganam in the final round of qualifying but gained a place in the main draw as a lucky loser.

Arn will face top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska after the withdrawal through injury of France's Kristini Mladenovic.