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Serena is favourite to win Australian Open

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Monday, January 07, 2013

SYDNEY - The first big name has fallen at the Sydney International with women's fifth seed Petra Kvitova sent packing after a heavy first round loss to Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova.

Kvitova's Australian Open preparations took a significant hit as world No.15 Cibulkova raced to a 6-1 6-1 win in little more than an hour at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre on Sunday.

Czech Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, was ousted by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round of the Brisbane International and will head into the Open amid a worrying form slump.

Earlier, former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki put her Open preparations back on track with a comprehensive 6-1 6-2 win over Poland's Urszula Radwanska.

After beginning 2013 poorly with a shock first-round loss to qualifier Ksenia Pervak at the Brisbane International, the Dane rediscovered her form in a powerful display.

With boyfriend and world golf No.1 Rory McIlroy watching on from the stands, Wozniacki needed just 26 minutes to take the first set and was largely untroubled in closing out the match in tough conditions.

"It was quite hot out there, especially towards the end of the second set you could really feel it was starting to heat up," Wozniacki said.

"I'm just happy to get the first win of the season under my belt and just move on."

The seventh seed will next face either German Julia Goerges or a qualifier in the second round. But she will part ways with McIlroy, with the Northern Irishman to fly out on Sunday night after 10 days in Australia.

to commence preparations for the Abu Dhabi golf championship later this month.


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