Stosur to face Zheng in Sydney



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    Sam Stosur will take on China’s Jie Zheng in the opening round of the Sydney International as the world No.9 attempts to get her Australian Open preparations back on track.

    Stosur’s quest to win her home grand slam began disastrously this week with a first-round loss at the Brisbane International to Swede Sofia Arvidsson.

    She was then dealt a tricky path for her final lead-up tournament in Sydney which begins on Sunday.

    World No.17 Lucie Safarova looms as a likely opponent in the second round with a possible quarter-final date with French Open winner Li Na should Stosur get past world No.26 Zheng.

    She has a 3-1 career record against Zheng, having won their past two encounters in 2011.

    Fellow Aussie Casey Dellacqua will face a qualifier in the opening round, with world No.4 Agnieszka Radwanska looming in the second round. The Polish top seed has a bye first up.

    Australian Olivia Rogowska, who along with Dellacqua was granted a wildcard, will meet world No.14 Maria Kirilenko in the opening round.

    After a shock loss to the little-known Victorian in the 2009 French Open, the Russian has revenge on her mind.

    “The last time I played her, I lost to her in the French Open – it was first round and she was a wildcard,” Kirilenko said following Friday’s draw.

    “It was three or four years ago – I remember it.

    “Since that time, I haven’t really seen how she’s been playing, but I’m sure she’s also improved.”

    Despite flying in from icy Russia on Thursday, Kirilenko said she wasn’t too daunted by the expected heatwave set to grip Sydney over the coming week.

    World No.7 and 2011 Sydney champion Li Na will face tough American teenager Christina McHale in her opening match.

    Eighth-seeded Nadia Petrova, former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic and former top-five player Daniela Hantuchova feature in a strong top half of the draw.

    In the bottom half, former world No.1 Caroline Wozniaki will face No.31 Urszula Radwanska (Agnieszka’s younger sister) and is in the same part of the draw as German second seed Angelique Kerber who also receives a first-round bye.

    2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova will begin the tournament against the diminutive Dominika Cibulkova. Third seed and last year’s French Open finalist Sara Errani has drawn a qualifier in her first-round match that could set up a potential clash with Kvitova in the quarter-finals.

    The official draw for the men’s singles will take place on Saturday.

    © AAP 2018

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