Latest updates: ASB Classic Day One

By Michael Burgess at the ASB Tennis Centre

Ana Ivanovic also takes the court today, in a first round doubles match.
Ana Ivanovic also takes the court today, in a first round doubles match.

Latest updates from day one at the ASB Classic in Auckland.

8.45pm

Sloane Stephens has eased into the second round, continuing a pattern of express singles matches today. The World No 30 beat Polona Herceg 6-3 6-3 in just over 70 minutes and never looked seriously troubled. She forced nine break point opportunities on the Slovak's serve and took three of them, to complete her win in just over 70 minutes.

The final match of the night is an all-American affair between Coco Vandeweghe and Irina Falconi but most of the crowd has gone home. Perhaps they are saving their pennies - and energy - for the all star appearances due tomorrow.

7.30pm

Fifth seed American Sloane Stephens has taken the first set against Slovak Polona Herceg 6-3 in just 34 minutes. The athletic Stephens, who has long had to bear comparisons with the Williams sisters, was more consistent than her European counterpart.

Herceg struggled all set on serve - only landing 52 per cent of her first serves and getting demolished on her second, winning just one of 14 points.

6.05pm

New Zealand No1 Marina Erakovic has enjoyed a winning start at the ASB Classic, progressing to the second round of the doubles. Erakovic and Spanish partner Silvia Soler-Espinosa beat Kiwi combination Sacha Jones and Rosie Cheng 6-2 7-6 (1).

Jones and Cheng, who gained a wild card into the event after winning the New Zealand championships, put up a good fight in the second set but were overwhelmed by the all professional combination in the second set tiebreak.

4.30pm

Tuesday's schedule has been released, with Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams on court in the afternoon and Ana Ivanovic headlining the night session. Marina Erakovic will play the final match tomorrow night.

Out on centre court Ivanovic and Kirsten Flipkens have surprised the top seeds in the doubles - Czech combination Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova - winning 4-6 6-4 10-3 in an entertaining match.

Meanwhile, Japan's Nao Hibino and Germany Carina Witthoeft have progressed in first round singles matches.

3.00pm

Kuznetsova is through to the second round, after Mona Barthel retired hurt in the third game of the second set with a stomach complaint. The German had looked out of sorts from the start - with some wild shots and complained during the match of feeling unwell before calling it quits after 49 minutes, for a 6-2 1-1 (retired) victory. Still, it was a tidy display from the 30-year-old Kuznetsova, who reaches the second round here for the first time since 2012.

Meanwhile, a truly `interactive' quiz has just unfolded here. With multi choice tournament themed questions displayed on the centrecourt's big screen, punters can answer on their phones. Questions varied in their difficulty factor but the north side of the ASB Tennis arena shaded the south end in the battle of the brains.

2.00pm

Ostapenko is the first player into the second round of the ASB Classic, wrapping up a 6-1 7-5 win over Johanna Larsson. It was a typical early season match - full of unforced errors but the Latvian was comfortably in control for most of the match. Neither player impressed from the service line - with both making seven double faults - but Ostapenko sent down five aces. The Latvian is set to meet Ana Ivanovic in the second round, provided the Serbian gets through her first round match tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Svetlana Kuznetsova's match with Mona Barthel is about to get underway on centre court. For all her success around the world - four grand slam finals and two titles as well as 13 other tournament wins - the Russian has struggled to find her best form in Auckland. Kuznetsova has only been past the second round once in four visits and hasn't won a match in each of the last two years.

1.00pm

Latvian teenager Jelena Ostapenko has made a superb start, taking the first set 6-1 in just 31 minutes against Swede Larsson. Ostapenko started nervously - with a double fault - but soon settled into her work. She has already justified her wildcard - though has been helped by a erratic performance from her opponent.

Meanwhile, it's good to see that most of the punters here are heeding the sunsmart advice - the open grandstands are a sea of hats and caps.

12.25pm

Welcome back to the Auckland's summer of tennis.

Two American young guns and a grand slam winner highlight the action on the first day of the ASB Classic.

Fifth seed Sloane Stephens and compatriot Coco Vandeweghe headline the evening session, while Svetlana Kuznetsova's clash with world No44 is one of the picks of the first round action.

Local interest will be piqued by an all-Kiwi clash in doubles, with Sacha Jones and Rosie Cheng taking on Marina Erakovic and her Spanish partner Silvia Soler-Espinosa this afternoon.

Ana Ivanovic also takes the court today, in a first round doubles match. The Serbian glamour girl has teamed up with Belgian Kirsten Flipkens and will face the top seeded Czech combination of Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova.

There will also be interest in Latvian youngster Jelena Ostapenko, who has risen from world No 308 to 79 over the last 12 months and takes on Auckland veteran Johanna Larsson today.

- NZ Herald

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