Caroline Wozniacki begins Hong Kong Open title defence with win over Eugenie Bouchard

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In-form: Wozniacki.

In-form Caroline Wozniacki started the defence of her WTA Hong Kong Open title in rampant style by blowing away Eugenie Bouchard 6-1, 6-1 on Tuesday.

Wozniacki, seeded three and a recent winner of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, dominated the first-round match as Bouchard was forced into a cascade of errors.

Wozniacki never looked remotely in trouble against the former golden girl of tennis, breaking her serve almost at will, and cruising to victory in only 58 minutes.

“It was a great start,” Wozniacki told reporters.

“I feel like I played pretty well, tried to stay aggressive and tried to make her feel pressured and it worked,” added the world number six.

“She never gave me a chance tonight,” said a crestfallen Bouchard.

For the Canadian, once the poster girl for the future of women’s tennis, it was another chastening defeat as the 23-year-old rides the crest of the biggest slump of her young career.

It seems a world away from Bouchard’s breakthrough season of 2014 when her easy-going personality and media friendly appearances were lapped up after she made the Wimbledon final and semi-finals at the Australian and French Opens while soaring to fourth in the world.

Three years on, her career is in freefall and she languishes at 78th having had just one run to a quarter-final in 2017, on the Madrid clay in early May.

Since a second-round exit at the French Open at the end of May, she has won just two matches on tour and it was easy to see why as she crumbled again.

“I really don’t want to look back at previous years,” said a disappointed Bouchard.

“I need to look forward and try to get better than I am now.”

WILLIAMS CRUISES

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

Second seed Venus Williams raced through her opening match 6-2, 6-2 against Japan’s Risa Ozaki in just 74 minutes.

It was an ideal way for Williams to shake off any rust in her first outing since losing to Sloane Stephens in the US Open semi-final a month ago.

Williams punctuated the performance with some trademark power winners and sent down seven aces to overwhelm the world number 95.

“Four weeks goes by pretty fast and the first match is never perfect,” said Williams, who dropped her own serve twice.

“It was a hard-fought match despite the score and it was a great way to start.”

Williams, 37 but seemingly ageless, has enjoyed a magnificent season, reaching two Grand Slam finals to qualify for the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore for the first time since 2009.

The second seed faces another Japanese opponent in Naomi Osaka in the second round after she overcame Chilean qualifier Alexa Guarachi 7-5, 6-4.

Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland swept past local wildcard Zhang Ling 6-1, 6-2 to set up a second-round meeting with former US Open champion Sam Stosur.

“I’ve known Sam for many years, although we didn’t play for a while. I think it’s going to be a really good match,” Radwanska said.

Number one seed Elina Svitolina came through a tough examination against Zarina Dyas, eventually triumphing 6-4, 7-6 in one hour and 43 minutes. 

The Ukrainian world number four trailed 3-0 to the player from Kazakhstan before reeling off five games in a row with a succession of forehand winners and closing out the first set 6-4.

Sporting a heavily strapped left thigh, Svitolina twice failed to serve out for the match in the second set at 5-4 and 6-5 before securing the tiebreak.

Fifth seed Elena Vesnina of Russia suffered the only upset of the first round when she was stunned 6-3, 6-4 by Thailand’s world number 130 Luksika Kumkhum.​

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Adrian Mannarino defeats Marin Cilic to reach Tokyo finals

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Adrian Mannarino

France’s 31st-ranked Adrian Mannarino secured a spot in the men’s singles finals as he overpowered top seed Croatian Marin Cilic at Japan Open on Saturday.

Mannarino defeated big-serving Cilic, runner-up to Roger Federer at this year’s Wimbledon, with a 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-0 win in a fierce match which lasted for nearly three hours.

The 29-year-old Frenchman now faces Belgium’s David Goffin who beat Cilic in the semi-final in Tokyo last season.

Goffin, 26, booked a place in the finals after a tight two-hour match with eighth seed Diego Schwartzman from Argentina.

Goffin finished off Schwartzman, who put an end to the impressive run of world number 46 Steve Johnson on Friday, with a 7-6 (7/3) 7-6 (8/6) victory.

Both the first and second set went to a tie-break but the match ended when Schwartzman hit a backhand long of the baseline.

The Japan Open has been played since 1972 and its previous winners include a roll-call of the game’s greats, including Ken Rosewall, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Federer and Nadal.

Provided by AFP Sport

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David Goffin cherishes first title in three years with Shenzhen Open win

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David Goffin

It was seventh time lucky for David Goffin after the Belgian beat Alexandr Dolgopolov over three sets to win the Shenzhen Open on Sunday.

The world number 12 Goffin tasted defeat in his last six finals, a bitter run stretching back to 2014.

But the 26-year-old made up for three years of disappointment with a determined display against the Ukrainian Dolgopolov to seal the title 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 in just over two hours in southern China.

He adds the Shenzhen trophy to the two he won in 2014 in Metz, France and Kitzbuehel in Austria.

“This one is really special because you know it’s always tough to come back from injuries,” said Goffin, who retired from the French Open and missed Wimbledon with an ankle injury.

“I cannot be happier today.”

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