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Brisbane International PIX: Azarenka rolls past Vesnina; Stosur survives another day

January 04, 2016 18:12 IST

Belarus' Victoria Azarenka plays a backhand against Russia's Elena Vesnina on Day 2 of the 2016 Brisbane International at Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane on Monday

IMAGE: Belarus' Victoria Azarenka plays a backhand against Russia's Elena Vesnina on Day 2 of the 2016 Brisbane International at Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane on Monday. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Former Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka began her warm-up to the first Grand Slam of the year in convincing fashion with a 6-2,6-0 win over Russian Elena Vesnina in their first round match at the Brisbane International on Monday.

Azarenka won 12 straight games to steamroll Vesnina and set up a mouthwatering 2nd round match against World No 2 Romanian Simona Halep,

Earlier, local favourite Sam Stosur narrowly avoided another disappointment on home turf as she battled through a wrist injury and three tough sets to claim an opening victory at the Brisbane International on Monday.

Australia's Sam Stosur celebrates winning her match against Solvakia's Jana Cepelova

IMAGE: Australia's Sam Stosur celebrates winning her match against Solvakia's Jana Cepelova. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

The former US Open champion recovered from 0-3 down in the final set to record a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Slovakian qualifier Jana Cepelova to kick off her always intense Australian summer in positive style.

The 31-year-old has frequently failed to hit the heights on home turf, having never won a tournament or progressed past the fourth round at the Australian Open, and bemoaned on Sunday the unfair emphasis she received for her domestic form.

The World No 27 looked set to give the critics another stick to beat her with before a spirited effort did for the world number 147 and set up a second-round clash with Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro on Tuesday.

Stosur needed treatment for a wrist problem midway through the second set but was not overly concerned about the injury.

"I'm not freaking out about it," said the right-hander, winner of eight WTA titles.

"I need to go see my physio and do whatever we need to do tonight.

"Then tomorrow playing night match there is that little bit of extra time if it is a bit sore. I'm sure we'll come up with a plan and be out on court ready to go."

Germany's Angelique Kerber plays a backhand against Italy's Camila Giorgi

IMAGE: Germany's Angelique Kerber plays a backhand against Italy's Camila Giorgi. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Italy's Roberta Vinci, who ended Serena Williams's bid for a calendar grand slam at the US Open semi-finals last year, also needed three tough sets to make the second round on the Brisbane hard courts.

The 32-year-old prevailed 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 over former world number one Jelena Jankovic, while Germany's world number 10 Angelique Kerber shook off the rust in a 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Camila Giorgi of Italy.

Singer Nicole Sherzinger (right) was all smiles after Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov's win over Frenchman Gilles Simon

IMAGE: Singer Nicole Sherzinger (right) was all smiles after Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov's win over Frenchman Gilles Simon. Photograph: Brisbane International/Twitter

In the men's category, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov had been touted as 'Baby Fed' but a disappointing 2015 season quelled those comparisons with the Swiss great.

The Bulgarian, who has slumped from eighth to 28th in the rankings, started his new campaign in more upbeat fashion by recording a 6-3 7-6(10) win over fifth seed Gilles Simon of France.

The cute-looking tennis player, who earlier dated the sensational Maria Sharapova is now rumoured to be dating singer Nicole Sherzinger.

Sherzinger, whose long-term relationship with Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton ended recently, was seen in Dimitrov's box, cheering on and blowing kisses to the 24-year-old after his win over Frenchman Simon.

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