Kuznetsova wins Sydney opener


Svetlana Kuznetsova opened the defence of her Sydney International title with a comfortable 6-1 6-4 win over Irina-Camelia Begu on Sunday.

However, the Australian Open warm-up event suffered a pair of big-name withdrawals with Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina pulling out of the tournament.

Russian fifth seed Kuznetsova started strongly by winning 10 of the first 11 games and after her Romanian opponent rallied in the second set to tie it up at 4-4, Kuznetsova broke again in the ninth game and served out the victory in 77 minutes.

“I started the year quite good with the feeling,” the 31-year-old double grand slam winner said. “Sometimes the results don’t go together with whatever you feel. But I feel very good for the start of the year, and for me it’s a very nice feeling.

“I never thought of defending my title or something like …

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