4 Jan 2016

ASB Classic gets underway

7:18 pm on 4 January 2016

The doubles have taken centre stage on the opening day of the Auckland Classic women's tennis tournament.

The top three seeds - former world No.1s Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki - all play their opening singles matches on Tuesday, as does local hope Marina Erakovic.

But Ivanovic and Erakovic did put on a show in the doubles on Monday.

Ana Ivanovic (L) and Kirsten Flipkens  confer during an ASB Classic doubles match, Monday 4 January 2016. Copyright Photo: Chris Symes / www.photosport.nz

Ana Ivanovic (L) and Kirsten Flipkens confer during an ASB Classic doubles match Photo: Photosport

Ivanovic and the Belgian Kirsten Flipkens edged the top-seeded Czech pair of Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova 10-3 in a super tiebreaker - which was a major upset.

Ivanovic and Flipkens are singles specialists, so beating the No.1 seeds is a real feat. But they didn't exactly take it seriously - the pair couldn't stop laughing at one point in the second set.

"First of all she (Flipkens) hit a really funny shot, where she could've just put a smash away," Ivanovic said.

"And then she fell as she was running backwards, and I couldn't stop laughing and she couldn't stop laughing either so, it kind of got a little bit more loose."

It didn't look good for Ivanovic and Flipkens in the first set as Hradecka and Hlavackova led 5-1, but Ivanovic and Flipkens rallied to only lose it 6-4, then they took the second set by the same scoreline.

The upset was even more impressive considering Flipkens had to win a final qualifying match in the morning to reach the singles main draw.

Marina Erakovic and Silvia Soler-Espinosa during a doubles match at the 2016 ASB Classic, Auckland. Monday 4 January 2016. Copyright Photo: Chris Symes / www.photosport.nz

Marina Erakovic and Silvia Soler-Espinosa during a doubles match at the 2016 ASB Classic Photo: Photosport

Marina Erakovic paired up with Spain's Sílvia Soler-Espinosa to beat New Zealanders Rosie Cheng and Sacha Jones in straight sets - though they had to come back from 0-2 down to win the first set, which they stormed home to take 6-2.

Erakovic and Soler-Espinosa then took the deciding set in a tiebreaker, 7-6.

Otherwise it was a low-key start to the ASB Classic, with most of the singles starpower being held back until the second day.

Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova did easily make it through to the second round.

Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova in action in the 2012 ASB Classic quarter-finals, Thursday 5 January 2012. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/photosport.co.nz

Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova Photo: Photosport

Kuznetsova had hammered Mona Barthel 6-2 in the opening set before the German called it quits at 1-1 in the second.

Jelena Ostapenko was the first player through to the second round. The Latvian beat the Swede Johanna Larsson 6-1 7-5 on centre court.

At 18, Ostapenko's the second-youngest player in the WTA's top 100.

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko in action at the 2016 ASB Classic in Auckland, 4 January 2016. Copyright Photo: Chris Symes / www.photosport.nz

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko in action at the 2016 ASB Classic Photo: Photosport

Carina Witthoeft also beat fellow German Tatjana Maria 6-2 7-6 to open the outer court action at Stanley St.

Romania's Alexandra Dulgheru edged Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 1-6 6-2 6-4, and Japan's Nao Hibino also needed three sets to dispatch of Mariana Duque-Mariño of Colombia, 6-2 2-6 7-5 in an extremely tight contest.

In final qualifying, Britain's Naomi Broady needed three sets including a tiebreaker in the last to see off top-seeded Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova, Broady winning 6-3 1-6 7-6 in an extremely tight affair.

Broady's reward is a centre court meeting with second-seeded Serb star Ivanovic.

Elsewhere in qualifying, the Netherlands' Kiki Bertens beat the USA's Lauren Davis 6-4 6-2, Austria's Tamira Paszek got past Japan's Kurumi Nara 7-6 6-1, while Belgian Flipkens had few problems dispatching Czech Tereza Martincova 6-4 6-3.

Paszek booked her place in the first round against former French Open winner and wildcard Francesca Schiavone of Italy. Bertens goes on to play seventh seed Barbora Strycova, another Czech.

Flipkens is up against American Bethany Mattek-Sands.

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