Last night, I was already regretting my prediction of Ana Ivanovic reaching the final in Sydney. I was right to have second thoughts about this prediction as she crashed out in the first round of action at the Apia International in Sydney. Ivanovic was beaten in straight sets by the dangerous leftie, Lucie Safarova. The first set went entirely with serve and the big moment came in the tiebreak at 5-5 when Ivanovic missed a routine volley, which cost her the set and ultimately the match. She later admitted afterwards that the miss had played on her mind during the remainder of the match. It was a good win for Safarova, who has now won her last three matches against Ivanovic and will play either Vera Zvonareva or Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round. In other matches, Jelena Dokic routed Izabella Holland, 6-0 6-0 and rain suspended play between Dominika Cibulkova and Peng Shuai with Cibulkova up a break in the third set.
Play also began in Hobart, where I was 0/5 for my predictions! The most interesting result was Anna Chakvetadze‘s 6-0 6-4 win over Monica Niculescu. It was a great comeback to the tour from Chakvetadze, which I did not expect to be so easy. I was pleased however because I do not rate Niculescu at all… she has one of the weakest serves on tour and relies on upseting her opponents with her unusual, yet effective slice. If her opponents can figure it out though she is normally toast as proved today. In other matches, the number 7 seed, Ksenia Pervak fell in the first round as she was beaten by Sorana Cirstea, 6-2 7-6, but one seed did manage to win through in Irina-Camelia Begu who beat Elena Baltacha, 6-2 7-5. A positive note for British hopes was Heather Watson qualifying for the main draw with a hard fought victory over Kristina Barrois, 4-6 7-5 7-6. She will now play Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round, which continues tomorrow.