4 Jan 2011

Tennis: Titleholder begins her defence at ASB Classic

5:45 pm on 4 January 2011

Belgian Yanina Wickmayer begins the defence of her ASB Classic title in Auckland on Tuesday.

Wickmayer, the tournament second seed, will play former world number one Dinara Safina of Russia in a first-round match on centre court.

Also on Tuesday: Marina Erakovic of New Zealand will play ninth seed Elena Vesnina of Russia, who was ranked 52nd in the world.

Top seed Maria Sharapova says a workout against Alberta Brianti of Italy was just what she needed to get her tournament started on Monday.

Sharapova, 23, won in straight sets, 6-2 6-3.

She will next meet Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic in the second round.

Third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, 25, of Russia, also made it into the second round after a 6-4, 6-2 victory over wildcard Sacha Jones of New Zealand.