Sharapova withdraws; Serena advances at Brisbane

Associated Press photo by Tertius PickardSerena Williams returns a shot against Alize Cornet  on Tuesday at the Brisbane International.
Associated Press photo by Tertius PickardSerena Williams returns a shot against Alize Cornet on Tuesday at the Brisbane International.

BRISBANE, Australia — Maria Sharapova withdrew from the Brisbane International on Tuesday because of an injured right collarbone that left her unable to serve. She said she didn’t want to aggravate the injury with the Australian Open two weeks away.

Also out was 2011 champion Petra Kvitova, who lost 6-4, 7-5 to Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a season-opening tournament that has proved rough for many of the top players.

Serena Williams, however, had no such problems. She carried her relentless winning form into 2013, reaching the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 victory at night over No. 44-ranked Alize Cornet.

Williams, a 15-time major winner who is ranked No. 3, has lost only one of her last 34 competitive singles matches in a run that includes titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics and the U.S. Open.

She was hitting winners so fiercely that Cornet didn’t bother chasing most of them. One of her serves, in the fourth game of the second, was 124 mph (200 kilometers). That was faster than any of her serves last year, and she has rarely served faster anywhere.

“I just really went for it. I’ve hit 200 before but they never go in so I was really excited that it went in,” Williams said. “I tried to be more aggressive.”

Sharapova, ranked No. 2 and the French Open champion, didn’t want to risk worsening a collarbone problem that flared late last month and also forced her from an exhibition in South Korea. She started hitting overheads and serves only on Monday and said it was wiser to head to Melbourne to get ready for the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, which begins Jan. 14.

“I still have quite a bit of time to prepare for Australia. I’m on the right track, been training really well, so I just don’t want to jeopardize what I’ve gained in the offseason so far,” she said. “Just have to make a smart move here.”

Kvitova, who won the Brisbane title five months before claiming her first Grand Slam crown at Wimbledon in 2011, didn’t find any rhythm against Pavlyuchenkova. She will head to Sydney for more matches before the Australian Open.

Combined with Daniela Hantuchova’s 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 win over No. 5 Sara Errani and the first-round exits of No. 7 Sam Stosur and No. 8 Caroline Wozniacki, the season-opening event featuring eight of the top 10 ranked women had already lost five of its top eight seeds before the end of the second round.

Williams will next meet the winner of Wednesday’s match between fellow American Sloane Stephens and Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson.

On the men’s side, local qualifier John Millman, ranked No. 199, advanced to a second-round match with Olympic and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray by beating Japan’s Tatsuma Ito 6-4, 6-1.

Seventh-seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria downed Denis Kudla of the U.S. 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, while eighth-seeded Martin Klizan of Slovakia lost 6-1, 6-2 to Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.

Spain’s Tommy Robredo advanced 6-4, 7-6 (4) over American Ryan Harrison, and Alejandro Falla of Colombia set up a second-round match with third-seeded Gilles Simon with a 6-1, 7-6 (8) win over Jesse Levine.

Hopman Cup

U.S. STAYS UNBEATEN: In Perth, Australia, the United States rallied past France 2-1, with John Isner and Venus Williams capturing the decisive mixed doubles to win a second straight series at the Hopman Cup.

France won the opening singles when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overwhelmed Isner 6-3, 6-2. Williams then tied it after trailing by a set and 4-1 to defeat Mathilde Johansson 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. The Americans won the mixed doubles 6-7 (5), 6-2 10-8 by taking six of the last seven points in the match tiebreaker.

The U.S., which defeated South Africa in its opening series, next plays Spain.

On Wednesday, Italy plays Germany and Australia faces Serbia.

Qatar Open

FERRER ADVANCES: In Doha, Qatar, top-seeded David Ferrer rallied to defeat German qualifier Dustin Brown 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 in the opening round of the Qatar Open.

The fifth-ranked Spaniard struggled early against Brown’s serve and net play. With the first set even at 5, Brown hit a drop volley and then broke Ferrer when the Spaniard hit a shot into the net. Brown closed out the set with a crosscourt volley winner.

Ferrer figured out Brown’s serve and the German began making unforced errors. Ferrer broke Brown to go up 3-1 on the way to winning the second and easily won the final set.

Three seeded players were upset, including Jeremy Chardy at No. 5.

Chardy was beaten by German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-4, 6-4. Earlier, Lukas Rosol beat eighth-seeded Pablo Andujar of Spain, 6-2, 7-6 (2). Lukasz Kubot of Poland topped seventh-seeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain, 6-4, 6-2.

Fourth-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia struggled, but rallied to beat Benjamin Becker of Germany 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1. Richard Gasquet, seeded second, beat Czech veteran Jan Hernych 6-3, 6-4.

ASB Classic

RADWANSKA ADVANCES: In Auckland, New Zealand, world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland swept past former champion Greta Arn 6-2, 6-2 to reach the second round of the ASB Classic.

The 23-year-old Radwanska took just over 70 minutes to overcome Arn, the 2011 champion now ranked 114, who entered the main draw as a lucky loser after being beaten in the last round of qualifying.

Radwanska controlled the match from the baseline, with occasional forays to the net, unsettling Arn with her strong forehand and off-balance backhand.

Arn was the second former champion to lose in the first round after 2012 champ Zheng Jie of China was beaten in straight sets on Monday.

Second-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany beat Latvian qualifier Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-4 in the last match of the first round. Goerges took the first set in just over 30 minutes, but had to fight hard to take the second with a single service break.

Earlier, sixth-seeded Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan beat Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino of Spain 6-3, 6-2. Shvedova served six aces and had five double-faults but still overcame her Spanish opponent in 71 minutes.

Fifth-seeded Sorana Cirstea of Romania became the third seeded player to exit the tournament, after seventh-seeded Christina McHale and fourth-seeded Jie, when she retired in the second set of her match against Britain’s Heather Watson.

Cirstea received medical attention after Watson took the first set 6-3, then was forced to retire because of a viral illness.

Eighth-seeded Mona Barthel of Germany, beat American qualifier Grace Min 6-1, 6-3 and unseeded New Zealander Marina Erakovic beat Stephanie Dubois of Canada 6-2 6-1.

Shenzhen Open

LI OPENS WITH WIN: In Shenzhen, China, top-seeded Li Na opened her Shenzhen Open campaign with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Mandy Minella of Luxembourg.

Li, ranked No. 7 in the world, broke Minella four times without facing a break point. Next up for the Chinese star, trying to win her first title on home soil since 2004, will be Julia Cohen of the United States in the second round.

Sixth-seeded Peng Shuai, chasing her first WTA singles title, swept past Ayumi Morita of Japan for a seventh straight time, 6-1, 6-1, and Zhou Yi-miao, a lucky loser who made the draw when third-seeded Jelena Jankovic withdrew, defeated American qualifier Jessica Pegula 6-4, 6-2.

Peng’s win set up a quarterfinal with Annika Beck of Germany, who beat fourth-seeded Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan 6-3, 6-0 in their first meeting.

Also through to the last eight were Monica Niculescu of Romania, who topped seventh-seeded Laura Robson of Britain 6-2, 6-3; fifth-seeded Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic; and eighth-seeded Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia, who awaited Li or Cohen.

Chennai Open

BACHINGER INTO SECOND ROUND: In Chennai, India, Matthias Bachinger of Germany upset seventh-seeded Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 at the Chennai Open.

Bachinger needed a little more than two hours to stave off a spirited rally from 2010 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Lu in a baseline slugfest that turned out to be the highlight of a day.

Also advancing to the second round were fifth-seeded Benoit Paire of France, German qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Roberto Bautista Augut of Spain and India’s Prakash Amritraj and Somdev Devvarman.

In the deciding third set, Bachinger broke serve in the fifth game and held to go up 4-2 before playing out the match.

Amritraj, son of former Indian Davis Cup player Vijay Amritraj, continued his form in the qualifying tournament by beating Frenchman Guillaume Rufin 6-7, 6-2, 6-3.