Samantha Stosur ousted in first round

SYDNEY -- U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur lost to Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 6-4 in the first round of the Sydney International on Monday in another setback in her preparation for next week's Australian Open.

Schiavone beat Stosur in the 2010 French Open final and had little trouble disposing of the local favorite again.

No. 6-ranked Stosur won only one match in Brisbane last week and will be short of match sharpness in Melbourne, where she will chase back-to-back Grand Slam titles following her win over Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final in September.

"You do all the work leading up and you feel OK and then today all of a sudden it's just like a bombshell hits you," Stosur said. "The whole emotional side of things really took over.

"Melbourne is coming up and I want to start playing well. Being in Australia and playing in Australia, I want to play the best I can play and do it all here this month."

Schiavone will next play Brisbane International finalist Daniela Hantuchova, who beat another Italian, Roberta Vinci, 7-5, 6-2.

While Stosur struggled, defending champion Li Na, third-seeded Victoria Azarenka, No. 7 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 8-seeded Marion Bartoli all advanced to the second round.

Li won the first nine games and needed only 66 minutes to beat Russian qualifier Ekaterina Makarova 6-0, 6-3.

The French Open champion next faces South African qualifier Chanelle Scheepers, who had a 6-4, 6-2 win over Melinda Czink of Hungary.

Li had a breakout season in 2011, reaching the Australian Open final and then becoming the first player from China to win a major with her title at Roland Garros.

Last week, she won all her singles matches at the Hopman Cup and the No. 5-ranked Li is only looking forward, not back.

"Last year is over," she said. "I don't have to think about what I did already last year. I mean, everyone has to look forward to see what you should do right now."

Nine of the top 10 ranked women were entered in the Sydney International. Already, two are out of contention after Stosur and sixth-seeded Vera Zvonareva fell in the first round; Zvonareva was beaten 6-1, 6-2 by Russian compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova had a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win over Peng Shuai of China to set up a second-round match against No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, who had a first-round bye.

Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania routed Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson 6-1, 6-1 and will next play Petra Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion who can displace Wozniacki atop the rankings by winning the Sydney tournament.

Kvitova has been reluctant to talk about her aims for the top spot even after winning four singles matches -- including one against Wozniacki -to help the Czech Republic win the Hopman Cup on the weekend.

"I'm still hearing this question about the first position in WTA," Kvitova said Monday. "Sometimes it's really crazy. I don't know what I have to answer all the time, but what I still say is that I'm not really focused on the first spot."

In other first-round matches, Azarenka of Belarus beat Stefanie Vogele of Switzerland 6-2, 6-1, Bartoli of France beat Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-3, 6-3, Radwanska beat her sister Urszula Radwanska 6-1, 6-1, and Andrea Petkovic of Germany beat Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-3.

In the men's draw, Americans Bobby Reynolds and Ryan Sweeting advanced, Poland's Lukasz Kubot had a 7-6 (4), 7-5 win over Ivan Dodig of Croatia, Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan beat Spain's Pablo Andujar, and Finland's Jarkko Nieminen ousted Australian teenager James Duckworth 6-2, 6-2.

Local wild-card entry Mathew Ebden had an upset 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over seventh-seeded Marcel Granollers of Spain.