Nick Kyrgios has defended Emma Raducanu amid a wave of recent criticism following the US Open champion's early exit from the Miami Open.

Raducanu was beaten by Katerina Siniakova in her first match in Miami this week after being given a bye into the second round.

She has won only four WTA Tour matches since sensationally becoming the first qualifier – male or female – to win a major in the Open Era at Flushing Meadows in September.

The 19-year-old has been in demand off the court, having last week announced she will be a brand ambassador for Porsche, but her business activities have attracted criticism.
 
Speaking after Raducanu's defeat to Siniakova, former world number five Daniela Hantuchova claimed the Briton has lost the locker room respect she had previously built up.

Kim Clijsters took aim at those who act as though they have "made it", meanwhile, though the four-time major winner did not mention Raducanu by name when making those comments.

Raducanu defended herself from the "unfair" accusations and Kyrgios has now questioned why former players have felt the need to take aim at the youngster.

"What’s with old retired players giving their opinion on our stars now?" he posted on Twitter, referencing a video uploaded by Andy Roddick on how players can curtail their anger.

"I love A-rod and I agree we all need to chill with the rackets and all that, but geezus.

"I read an article about a past female player talking about Radacanu, no offence, but she is a far, far bigger name already."

Emma Raducanu has hit back "unfair" criticism over her mounting sponsorship deals following her early exit from the Miami Open.

The US Open champion was beaten by Katerina Siniakova in her first match in Miami this week after being given a bye into the second round.

Raducanu has only won four WTA Tour matches since she was sensationally crowned champion at Flushing Meadows as a qualifier in New York last September.

The 19-year-old has been in demand off the court and last week revealed she will be a brand ambassador for Porsche.

Briton Raducanu insists she is still driving high standards in training as she strives to build on her maiden grand slam triumph.

"Maybe you just see, on the news or on social media, me signing this or that deal and I feel like it’s quite misleading because I’m doing five, six hours a day [in training], I’m at the club for 12 hours a day," the 19-year-old told reporters.

"But I throw out one post in the car on the way to practice and all of a sudden it’s 'I don't focus on tennis'. I think that it is unfair, but it's something I have learned to deal with and become a bit more insensitive to the outside noise.

"At the end of the day, I feel like my days [with sponsors] are pretty limited. I'm not doing crazy days. I'm doing three, four days every quarter, so it's really not that much."

Naomi Osaka is through to the third round of the Miami Open after beating former world number one Angelique Kerber in straight sets.

Osaka won the first three games of the match to jump out to an early lead, securing the set with a double-break before breaking early in the second to cruise to a 6-2 6-3 win.

The story of the match was Osaka's ease in winning points against Kerber's serve, winning 41 per cent (15/37) of Kerber's successful first serves, while the German could only win 11 per cent (3/27) in the same category.

Britain's top-ranked woman Emma Raducanu suffered another early exit, on the wrong end of Katerina Siniakova's comeback 3-6 6-4 7-5 win.

US Open champion Emma Raducanu is not planning on replicating Ash Barty after the world number one retired at the age of 25.

Barty announced her retirement on Wednesday less than two months after winning the Australian Open, saying she has accomplished all she set out to in the sport.

There has since been an outpouring of respect and admiration for Barty, with the prevailing sentiment being that it is a great loss for tennis.

Raducanu burst onto the scene last year with a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon that was followed by a remarkable triumph at Flushing Meadows, making history at the age of 18 in becoming the first player to win a grand slam as a qualifier in the Open Era, doing so without dropping a set.

And she is planning on staying on the WTA Tour for many years to come.

"For me, I want to be in the game as long as possible," Raducanu said.

"I'm only 19. I've just come on tour, which is pretty young.

"I want to be in the game till I'm in my 30s. We'll see what happens and how long I can last, to be honest."

Reflecting on Barty's career, one in which she took a break from the sport in 2014, briefly playing professional cricket, before returning in 2016, Raducanu added: "If you get oversaturated with one thing, it's not healthy with anything you do.

"I feel like that just shows, if you take time off, you come back, you're hungry, you're ready. 

Emma Raducanu knows she must "get stronger" after losing to Petra Martic in the third round of the Indian Wells Open.

Martic came from a set down to beat US Open champion Raducanu 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 7-5 on Sunday.

Teenager Raducanu has been troubled by a back injury and an issue with her hip.

The Brit says she was hampered at Indian Wells, but is confident she will be fit for the Miami Open next week.

"I think it's just part of not playing and having so much stop start and having five, six days to prepare for matches and then playing at that intensity,” she said.

"It was a tough one not being able to serve full out so I was having to work so hard just to hold.

"I've just got to get stronger. I've had it for the last few days, just a product of training hard and probably the last match was pretty intense too and it didn't settle down.

"When you are crossing your fingers to hold serve every time, it's tough. I couldn't really drive up and I was kind of struggling to turn and reach.

"The margins were so small. I should be good for Miami, for sure."

Two-time major winner Simona Halep secured a spot in the Indian Wells Open last 16 with a strong 6-3 6-4 victory over 16th seed Cori Gauff on Sunday.

Halep, who is aiming to rebuild her ranking in 2022 after an injury-hit second half of last year, was excellent with her return, particularly on Gauff's second serve to gain the edge.

The Romanian saved all four break points generated by Gauff, while she converted three of the nine break points that she created.

Halep, who started the year with victory at the Melbourne Summer Set 1 before a last-16 loss to Alize Cornet at the Australian Open, needed only one hour and 16 minutes to seal her progress.

She will next play Romanian compatriot Sorana Cirstea after the 26th seed won 5-7 6-1 6-0 against lucky loser Anna Kalinskaya.

Last year's US Open champion and British 11th seed Emma Raducanu was bundled out by Croatian world number 79 Petra Martic 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 7-5.

Raducanu had served for the match in the final set but the Croatian won the final three games. Martic triumphed in two hours and 46 minutes, reaching the last 16 at Indian Wells for the second time in her career.

Martic will face 28th seed Liudmila Samsonova who triumphed 6-4 7-6 (7-4) over Danka Kovinic.

Third seed Iga Swiatek came from a set down to win 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 6-1 over Clara Tauson in two hours and 18 minutes.

Swiatek has won seven straight matches and is unbeaten at WTA 1000 events this season, having triumphed in Doha last month.

The Pole will take on three-time major winner Angelique Kerber in the last 16 after the German won comfortably over Daria Kasatkina 6-2 6-1.

American 25th seed Madison Keys got past countrywoman Alison Riske 7-6 (7-4) 6-1, setting up a fourth-round meeting with British qualifier Harriet Dart who beat Kaia Kanepi in straight sets.

Emma Raducanu landed her first Indian Wells victory as the US Open champion said Andy Murray inspired her to see off Caroline Garcia.

There was a certain irony about that, given Garcia is the player Murray famously once tipped to become a world number one.

But seeing fellow Briton Murray battle past Taro Daniel prior to her own match fuelled Raducanu for her opening test at the WTA Indian Wells Open.

While it was not always comfortable for the 11th seed, Raducanu recovered from a shaky second set to win 6-1 3-6 6-1 against her French opponent.

Murray's pronouncement about Garcia's prospects came on Twitter in 2011 as he watched the then little-known player take on Maria Sharapova in the French Open.

Garcia reached as high as number four in 2018, and it is now Raducanu who looks the likelier future number one, having landed a breakthrough grand slam against all the odds in New York last year.

Raducanu was beaten on her Indian Wells debut by Aliaksandra Sasnovich last October, so to land a first win came as a relief.

She said in an on-court interview: "It's amazing to be back and I'm so happy to have got my first win in the desert here. I hope to come back for many more years.

"I thought the level of tennis was pretty high today, and it means a lot to have come through that because it could have gone either way."

Raducanu said Garcia "climbed on top" of her game in the second set, but, like Murray earlier, she kept enough back for a decider.

Speaking to Amazon Prime, she revealed how seeing Murray show his battling qualities against Daniel reminded her of what it takes in trying circumstances.

"I was watching pretty much the whole match until I had to go warm up," Raducanu said. "He was down, and it was a really tough one. To see him, I kind of wanted to follow him and learn from him and he kind of inspired me to dig in today when it got tough."

She added: "To get this win after a stop-start year that I've had at the beginning, it means a lot. I'm just really happy to have given myself another opportunity.

"For sure it's difficult after dropping a set. I knew I'd slipped up, and I'd missed too many first serves, and I was just thinking... 'Just think how bad you're gonna feel after the match if you let this one go'."

Caroline Garcia reached the second round of the Indian Wells Open after coming through a gruelling encounter with Dayana Yastremska.

Garcia had gone three matches without a win against her Ukrainian opponent, who reached the final of last week's Lyon Open.

Although she squandered two match points in the second set, Garcia eventually prevailed 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 7-5 after nearly two and a half hours to set up a second-round clash with US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

Sofia Kenin's difficult start to the year continued as she suffered a straight-sets defeat to Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The Australian Open champion and French Open runner-up two years ago, Kenin has now lost six matches in a row since reaching the quarter-finals in Adelaide back in January.

The 23-year-old, who has dropped to 130 in the world, threw in 11 double faults in her 6-3 7-5 defeat to Haddad Maia, who next meets 29th seed Clara Tauson.

Ekaterina Alexandrova will face Simona Halep, the 2015 champion, in round two after coming through 4-6 6-2 7-6 (9-7) against 18-year-old American Elvina Kalieva.

There were also wins for Kaia Kanepi, Alison Riske and Harriet Dart, who next meets 12th seed Elina Svitolina.

World number 37 Jil Teichmann lost in straight sets to Danka Kovinic, Ann Li beat compatriot Madison Brengle in an all-American thriller, and wildcards Katie Volynets and Claire Liu also progressed.

Emma Raducanu was forced to retire in her first WTA Tour match since the Australian Open.

The US Open champion exited to Danka Kovinic in round two in Melbourne, as her bid for another major title was hampered by a painful blister to her right hand.

A month on, Raducanu took on Daria Saville at the Abierto Zapopan in Guadalajara but was forced to call a halt to proceedings after three hours and 36 minutes, with the scores at 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 4-3. It was the longest WTA match of 2022.

The 19-year-old had fallen at the first hurdle at last year's Linz Open, the only previous event where she appeared as the top seed, and she might have feared a repeat amid a slow start on Tuesday.

Raducanu and Saville traded early breaks, before the Australian seemed to settle first, claiming a 3-1 lead.

Back roared Raducanu and a tense opener continued in back-and-forth fashion, although the big opportunities fell the Briton's way.

She let slip three break points at 5-4 but had four more at 6-5, eventually able to celebrate with a mixture of relief and delight when Saville netted.

Raducanu served for the match at 5-3 in the second, but Saville battled on not only to force the tie-break but also a deciding set.

The Australian fell 2-0 down in the third but was ahead 3-2 when Raducanu took a medical time-out and returned to court with heavy strapping on her leg. After struggling through another two games, Raducanu retired a break down at 4-3, meaning Saville will progress to face Caroline Dolehide.

Meanwhile, after the shock exit of Madison Keys the previous day, Raducanu's fellow seeds had no such issues this time around.

Sara Sorribes Tormo and Camila Osorio each advanced in straight sets, beating Katie Volynets and Viktoriya Tomova respectively.

Emma Raducanu revealed members of her support team proposed she should abandon her Australian Open campaign before Thursday's defeat to Danka Kovinic.

The 19-year-old US Open champion was badly affected by a blister on her right hand as she slid to a 6-4 4-6 6-3 defeat on Margaret Court Arena.

Raducanu made a strong start in the opening set before the pain began to kick in, and she said she won the second set "with basically one shot" after being unable to consistently club heavy ground strokes.

But Raducanu could not maintain that level into the decider, suffering her first grand slam defeat in a completed match, having previously pulled out injured during a Wimbledon fourth-round clash with Ajla Tomljanovic before streaking to a sensational first major in New York.

Raducanu did not specify who exactly had suggested she ought not take to the court, but said: "There were some people in my team that maybe didn't want me to play."

A recent case of COVID-19 interrupted Raducanu's preparation for her first major since teaming up with new coach Torben Beltz.

"Because of 21 days, no tennis, my hands got pretty soft," Raducanu said.

She explained blisters had begun to form on her hand in training soon after arriving in Australia, with the current problem – "right in the crease" – having been affecting her since just prior to the Australian Open beginning.

The problem has been getting worse rather than better and Raducanu said the blister had become "pretty deep".

"It's a bit annoying," she said, "because I know it's something that will heal in a few days. It's just unfortunate timing. I have had blisters before but never this bad. It's quite deep, and it's just in a very awkward position that is so difficult to tape."

She said every shot was taking a toll on the blister, with the friction meaning each impact was "very painful".

The forehand slice became a big shot for Raducanu, and it was to her credit that she almost eked a win out of such difficult circumstances.

In the end, world number 98 Kovinic found ways to overcome a hampered opponent, setting up a daunting third-round clash with Simona Halep.

Raducanu said: "I thought it was a pretty good learning experience for me. I discovered tools about myself and my game that I didn't know I had before. That slice forehand is not so bad, and I have some sort of hand skills. That was a positive surprise.

"To get that second set with basically one shot, I can't believe it really.

"Because I'm still young, I feel like I can learn a backhand, I can learn some sort of tactics, but it's quite hard to learn or teach someone that fight and grittiness to hang in there when things are pretty much all against you. So, I'm quite proud of that."

A hampered Emma Raducanu crashed out of the Australian Open with a defeat to Danka Kovinic in the second round on Thursday.

World number 98 Kovinic beat the US Open champion 6-4 4-6 6-3 on Margaret Court Arena to become the first player representing Montenegro to reach the third round of a grand slam.

Raducanu was troubled by a blister on her right hand and although the 17th seed showed her fighting spirit to take a topsy-turvy match the distance, she was unable to avoid an early exit.

It had all started so well for the 19-year-old Raducanu, but Kovinic won five games in a row from 3-0 down in the first set and although the Brit got back on serve at 5-4, she was fell behind after being broken for a fourth time.

Clearly restricted by her damaged hand, the favourite mixed up her approach intelligently with a measured sliced forehand and levelled the match courtesy of two breaks, an overcooked forehand from Kovinic ending the set.

Kovinic saved four break points early in the decider and broke when her opponent sent a backhand long, but the battling world number 18 hit straight back to get back on serve at 3-2.

However, a stroke of good fortune via the net cord gave Kovinic another break point, which she won with a brilliant lob and went on to serve out the match.

Kovinic will face two-time major winner Simona Halep or Beatriz Haddad Maia for a place in the fourth round at Melbourne Park, having struck 40 winners to Raducanu's 27 in the biggest win of her career.

Emma Raducanu triumphed in a battle of US Open champions as she started her Australian Open campaign with victory over Sloane Stephens.

The 19-year-old stunned the tennis world when she claimed the title at Flushing Meadows last year after progressing all the way through the qualifying rounds and main draw without dropping a set.

The Briton struggled to build on those famous two weeks in New York, losing four of her next six matches including a 0-6 1-6 thrashing by Elena Rybakina at this month's Sydney Tennis Classic.

However, she put that result firmly behind her with an impressive 6-0 2-6 6-1 defeat of Stephens in her first match in the main draw of the Melbourne grand slam.

The first set was in keeping with Raducanu's US Open performance as she clinched it in just 17 minutes while dropping only four points.

But American Stephens, champion in her home slam in 2017, fought back in the second set and set up a decider with a forehand winner.

Yet the 17th seed responded well, marching into a 5-0 lead before serving out the match to set up a second-round clash with Danka Kovinic.

"I think both me and Sloane really put everything out there and gave it everything we had," she said.

"I think it was a really high-quality match, with some very long rallies. I'm very happy to come through against a great champion like her."

 

The tennis season has begun with Rafael Nadal, Ash Barty, Paula Badosa and Thanasi Kokkinakis among the champions at small-scale events in Australia.

Yet there has been one dominant story in the sport and little else has had a look-in in the lead-up to the Australian Open.

Now that Novak Djokovic knows his fate, there is the welcome prospect of eyes turning to matters on the tennis court, rather than the Federal Court.

With the action getting under way in Melbourne on Monday, Stats Perform looks at the main protagonists and what the numbers tell us about another high-stakes grand slam.

Djokovic absence blows open men's draw

As defending champion Djokovic heads for home, it is worth a reminder of how he has dominated this tournament.

Nine of his grand slam titles have come in Melbourne, and he has taken the trophy in each of the last three years, helping him cosy up alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 majors, an all-time record they share. Of the 'Big Three', only Nadal is in the draw this year, with Federer currently on the injured list.

Djokovic has the highest win percentage in the Open Era (since 1969) at the Australian Open, among players with 20 or more wins (91.1 per cent – W82 L8). He was hoping to join Nadal (13 French Opens) and Margaret Court (11 Australian Opens) in the exclusive club of players to reach double figures for singles titles at one slam.

The Serb was also aspiring to become the first man in the Open Era to win four consecutive Australian Opens. It happened once before the tour turned professional, with Roy Emerson winning five in a row from 1963 to 1967. Djokovic has left Melbourne with the title every time that he has made it through to the semi-finals.

 

So who takes the title now?

Only Bjorn Borg (89.2 per cent) has a higher winning percentage in grand slam matches than Nadal (87.7 per cent) and Djokovic (87.5 per cent) in the Open Era, among players with 100 or more wins. So why not Nadal?

The 35-year-old and Djokovic have carved up 12 of the last 14 grand slam titles, Nadal winning four of those (three French Opens, one US Open). He is battling back from a foot injury lay-off and coronavirus, and might need to get the early rounds out of the way without undue stress to stand a chance at the business end.

The two exceptions in the Nadal-Djokovic sequence of slam dominance have come at the US Open, with Dominic Thiem winning in New York in 2020 and Daniil Medvedev triumphing at Djokovic's expense in last year's Flushing Meadows final. Thiem is not in Australia, but world number two Medvedev is, looking to become the third Russian man to win two slams, after Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin.

The last man other than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic to secure back-to-back slam singles title was Andre Agassi (US Open 1999 and Australian Open 2000), but that is Medvedev's objective now, and he has the game to pull it off.

Nadal has reached at least the quarter-final stage in 15 of his last 16 grand slam appearances, winning six of those majors (four French Opens and two US Opens), so he may well be a factor.

Who else is in the frame? Alexander Zverev probably, having reached the quarter-finals in Australia in the last two seasons (SF in 2020 and QF in 2021). He won the Olympic Games and ATP Finals titles last year, so a grand slam is an obvious next step. He might want to keep double faults in check though, having served a tour-high 113 in slams last season.

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the Australian semi-finals in 2019 and 2021, so throw him into the mix too, and Matteo Berrettini might be a threat. The Italian, a runner-up to Djokovic at Wimbledon in July, served more aces than any other player in grand slams last year (311 aces, 16.4 on average per match).

 

Others have more modest ambitions

Andy Murray is back at the Australian Open for the first time since 2019, when he lost in the first round against Roberto Bautista Agut in five sets and was more or less given his last rites as a tennis pro after the match, having indicated he was close to retirement.

The five-time Australian Open runner-up last won a match in this tournament in 2017, when he reached round four. A tough opener against Nikoloz Basilashvili awaits.

Spanish 40-year-old Feliciano Lopez will make his 80th appearance in a grand slam and become the second man in the Open Era with 80 or more appearances at the four majors, after Federer (81).

Do not expect an Australian to be men's champion, by the way. The last time an Australian reached the men's singles final was 2005, when Lleyton Hewitt lost against Safin, and the last home champion was Mark Edmondson in 1976.

Barty backed in stacked women's draw

For the first time since 1997, neither Serena nor Venus Williams will take part in the Australian Open. Yet the women's tour is in rude health, even without those great bastions.

Ash Barty is world number one and a standout pick for many, only enhancing her claims after winning an Adelaide International title in the run-up to this fortnight.

But there is staggering depth on the women's side at present, and Barty will face stiff competition.

Incredibly, the last five grand slam finals have featured 10 different women, and teenager Emma Raducanu's against-all-odds US Open triumph in September shows best of all that new stars are emerging.

Yet since 2000, only three non-seeded players have reached the women's singles final at the Australian Open: Serena Williams in 2007, Justine Henin in 2010 and Garbine Muguruza in 2020. 

Barty could become the first Australian to be women's champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978, and the first to reach the final since Wendy Turnbull lost to Hana Mandlikova in 1980.

The Queenslander is the top seed, and the last time the number one failed to reach at least the fourth round at Melbourne Park was in 1979, when Virginia Ruzici lost her opening match. Barty ended a long wait for an Australian winner of the women's title at Wimbledon last year, so why not closer to home as well?

 

Naomi Osaka is back, so what should we expect?

Truth be told, that's hard to know. Osaka took time out from tennis after the US Open to focus on her mental health and enjoyed hanging out with friends, before deciding she missed tennis enough to go back on tour.

She had three wins at the Melbourne Summer Set tournament recently before withdrawing from a fourth match, saying her body had "got a shock" from the intensity. As defending champion in the season's first major, she has a target on her back and will need to find a way to handle that.

Over the past six seasons, only Osaka has managed to win back-to-back grand slam singles titles among the women, and she has done so twice (US Open 2018 and Australian Open 2019, plus US Open 2020 and Australian Open 2021).

The last player to win back-to-back women's Australian Open singles titles was Victoria Azarenka (2012 and 2013), so it does not happen regularly.

Osaka has an 85 per cent win rate at this tournament: since 2000, only Jennifer Capriati (90 per cent) and Serena Williams (89 per cent) have had a higher win percentage in the main draw.

 

You want challengers to the big two? Try sticking a pin in the draw

The Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, which goes to the champion, is a trophy that upwards of a dozen women will seriously believe they can win.

Aryna Sabalenka has reached the semi-finals of the last two slams but is mired in some kind of hellish serving groove, having made 74 double faults in her last four matches and lost the last three in a row.

Anett Kontaveit won a tour-high 39 matches on hard courts last year but has only been to one grand slam quarter-final – last year in Australia, losing to Simona Halep.

What about Ons Jabeur, who matched Kontaveit for a tour-high 48 wins across all surfaces last year? The Tunisian is queen of the drop shot, making 147 successful such plays on tour last year, more than any other player, and recently reached the top 10 in the WTA rankings for the first time.

Maria Sakkari reached two slam semi-finals last year, the first of her career, and the form of Barbora Krejcikova and Badosa in the past week in Melbourne marks them out as contenders. Both are recent fast-risers, Krejcikova already with a French Open title to show.

WTA Finals champion Muguruza could be the second Spaniard to twice reach the Melbourne title match, after Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (1994 v Steffi Graf and 1995 v Mary Pierce). Spain has never had an Australian Open women's singles winner: former French Open and Wimbledon champ Muguruza is an authentic contender.

Halep was runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki in 2018, a semi-finalist in 2020 and quarter-finalist last year, and a Melbourne Summer Set title was a handy warm-up for the Romanian. Consider her, too.

Monica Seles, in 1991, was the last player to triumph on her debut in the main draw, but she was already a grand slam winner (1990 French Open). Given the strength of the line-up, the prospect of a bolter coming through this field is unlikely, even if the example of Raducanu tells us anything is possible.

Novak Djokovic has been drawn against Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round of the Australian Open as the defending champion awaits to hear if he can stay in the country.

World number one Djokovic was last week given a medical exemption to enter Australia, despite not being vaccinated, only for border officials to block it upon his arrival.

The 20-time grand slam winner was detained for four days while waiting to appeal the case on Monday, which went in his favour at Melbourne Circuit Court.

Djokovic has since started training ahead of the Australian Open, which begins next Monday, though immigration minister Alex Hawke may yet cancel his visa for a second time. 

A decision on whether Djokovic can compete in the first grand slam of the year, which he has won a record nine times, could be made on Thursday.

Should he be given the all clear to take part, Djokovic will face compatriot Kecmanovic in the first round at Melbourne Park.

Thursday's draw, which was delayed by one hour and 15 minutes for unspecified reasons, also saw fellow 20-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal paired with Marcos Giron.

Nadal is in the same half of the draw as Djokovic, meaning the pair could meet in the semi-finals, while third seed Alexander Zverev is also in the top half.

Second seed and 2021 finalist Daniil Medvedev is in the bottom half along with Stefanos Tsitsipas and will take on Henri Laaksonen first up.

In the women's draw, Australia's world number one Ash Barty will begin her quest for glory on home soil against a qualifier.

The top seed is on a collision course with defending champion Naomi Osaka, who goes face-to-face with Camila Osorio in round one on her return from a four-month break.

Reigning US Open winner Emma Raducanu is up against Sloane Stephens, who won the New York major in 2017, while Storm Sanders awaits second seed Aryna Sabalenka.

US Open champion Emma Raducanu suffered the heaviest defeat of her professional career at the hands of Elena Rybakina at the Sydney Tennis Classic.

The ninth seed needed just 55 minutes to storm to a 6-0 6-1 victory to set up a meeting with Caroline Garcia in round two.

This was only Raducanu's eighth appearance in a WTA main draw and the 19-year old had not played since November having contracted COVID-19 and then withdrawn from the Melbourne Summer Set last week.

Rybakina lost only 11 points on serve in the match, sending down four aces. Raducanu, by contrast, struggled badly: the Briton gave up six double faults and won just two points behind her second serve.

"My serve is a weapon, so I'm always working on it and trying to find some variety," said Rybakina. "For sure, it's my game to play aggressive and my serve is helping a lot."

Elsewhere in Sydney, Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic beat Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-3 6-2 in her first match of the year and will now face France's Oceane Dodin.

Home favourite Ajla Tomljanovic defeated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in straight sets, while world number 20 Elise Mertens also progressed.

At the Adelaide International 2, Coco Gauff looked in strong form as she dispatched Katerina Siniakova 6-1 6-2, while fellow seed Tamara Zidansek beat Heather Watson in a three-set battle.

There was a shock for top seed Aryna Sabalenka, though, as she fell 5-7 6-1 7-5 to Sweden's Rebecca Peterson, who celebrated her first win over a top-five player, while American Lauren Davis beat seventh seed Jil Teichmann in three sets.

Ninth seed Sorana Cirstea lost in straight sets to Anhelina Kalinina, but eighth seed Liudmila Samsonova beat Mayar Sherif.

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