In a tournament full of big names, defending ASB Classic champion Julia Goerges made a strong statement on Tuesday night.

The world No14 swept aside Johanna Larsson in an imperious display, winning 6-0 6-4 in less than an hour.

Often players can be rusty to start the season, but Goerges showed no signs on the first day of the year.

She was in the groove from the first few rallies, and didn't give world No 45 Larsson an inch, overwhelming her with power and precision under the baseline.


For whatever reason, Goerges tends to fly under the radar.

Every year there are bigger names, with more profile, at the ASB Classic, but the German is ultra-consistent. Her run over the last four years in Auckland has been staggering. She reached the last eight in 2015, was runner-up the following year (to Sloane Stephens) and a semifinalist in 2017 before last year's long awaited win, on her ninth appearance at Stanley Street.

And Goerges has gone to a new level over the last two years on tour. She reached a career high five finals in 2017, before last year's breakthrough run to the last four at Wimbledon, her first semifinal appearance at a grand slam.

Much of her progress came off the back off her powerful serve; she had more aces (492) and more points won off her first serve (73.8 per cent) than any other player on tour.

Today's victory was her 21st match win in Auckland; more than any other player in the tournament's history.

The Swede had won their previous three encounters, but Goerges didn't give her a look in from the start. She blasted out of the blocks, breaking Larsson three times in the first set.

Goerges was almost impeccable, only dropping two points on her serve, while her opponent struggled to gain any traction.

When the 30-year-old sprinted to a 2-0 lead in the second set there were fears of a double bagel, but Larsson showed some fight to break back and level at 4-4.


But it was no surprise when Goerges converted the first of three match points, with a trademark backhand down the line.

Fifth seed Barbora Strycova also progressed, though she was pushed to the limit by hard hitting American Taylor Townsend.

The Czech, making her eighth appearance in Auckland, eventually prevailed 6-2 6-7 (5) 6-3 in match that stretched for almost two and a half hours.

Strycova was completely in control early, cruising to a 5-1 lead in the first set as Townsend looked out of sorts.

But improbably, things turned around in the second set. Townsend began to make some inroads, especially when she advanced to the net, while Strycova, as he can do, lost her rhythm and her self control.

"It was very tough," said Strycova. "I was playing well in the beginning and she couldn't really find the court. But she started to serve much better and the wind, lefty, this mix wasn't good for me."

"We talk all the time that I am angry and emotional and yes, this is me. I won't change it. I need it sometimes to put the emotions out. I won that match because of my head…I was stronger."

Others to progress today included American Sofia Kenin, who upset fourth seed Petra Martic 7-5 2-6 6-2 in just over two hours, and seventh seed Kirsten Flipkens, with a routine 6-2 6-2 win over Sachia Vickery.

Qualifier Bibiane Schoofs (Holland), third seed Su Wei Hsieh (Taiwan) and Mona Barthel (Germany) also advanced to the second round.