Baltacha starts 2012 with win

Mon, 02 Jan 08:28:00 2012

British number one Elena Baltacha started the new year with a victory as she won her opening match at WTA Auckland.

TENNIS Elena Baltacha in the second round of the US Open - 0

But the world number 51 was made to work hard by local hope Sacha Jones, ranked a lowly 274th in the world, who took Baltacha to three sets as the Ukraine-born star battled to a 6-2 4-6 6-3 victory.

Baltacha will next play fourth seed Flavia Pennetta, a beaten finalist on the Auckland hardcourts in 2010, who advanced to the second round after she was forced to battle against Romania's Sorana Cirstea.

The Italian eased through the first set but found the battling Cirstea far tougher to break down in the second as the Romanian forced a tiebreak, in which she held a 3-1 lead, before Pennetta rallied to secure a 6-4 7-6 victory.

Top seed Sabine Lisicki roared back from a 0-2 deficit in the second set to overpower France's Virginie Razzano 6-4 6-4 and advance to the second round.

The world number 15 had comfortably romped through the first set but found herself down a break in the second and Razzano serving to go 3-0 ahead.

The German 22-year-old, however, rallied with some blistering returns of serve and groundstrokes to break Razzano back and then win the next three games in quick succession to seize control of the match.

Lisicki, who was troubled with injury at the start of 2011 but recovered to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon and finish the year inside the top-20 for the first time, showed some signs of rust with her serve, giving up seven double faults.

"I lost a bit of concentration there but I kept going and its fine for the first match," Lisicki said in a courtside interview. "It's the first match of the year, and I was struggling a little bit with my serve.

"But it means I still have to work on a few things and that's good that way. I can still improve."

The tournament lost its major draw Venus Williams less than two weeks ago through illness.

Lucie Hradecka beat Alberta Brianti 6-4 3-6 6-2 in a tough-fought match, while Sara Errani and Christina McHale enjoyed easy wins over Johanna Larsson and Alexandra Dulgheru respectively.

Reuters / Eurosport

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