Wozniacki starts off in fine fashion

Wozniacki starts off in fine fashion

Caroline Wozniacki capped 2017 with the biggest win of her career when she claimed a maiden WTA Finals triumph in October and the Dane has carried that momentum into the new season with a ruthless display to kick off her Auckland Classic campaign.

The top seed has a chance to usurp world number one Simona Halep with a victory in New Zealand and the 27-year-old needed just 58 minutes to race past American Madison Brengle with a 6-3, 6-0 triumph in their first round encounter on Tuesday.

The world number three is still searching for her first grand slam triumph but after emerging victorious in the elite eight-woman event in Singapore, her raised levels of play could see her make that breakthrough in Melbourne later this month.

Wozniacki is also searching for a first triumph in Auckland after reaching the final in 2015 and despite being tested by Brengle early the contest, the Dane pulled away once she found her rhythm and claimed the last seven games to seal victory.

"I thought I played pretty well, especially considering it's the first match back of the year," Wozniacki told reporters. "It took me a couple of games to kind of just get the rhythm and then I started playing better and better.

"I'm just trying to get my legs moving, trying to make the right decisions, wait for the right shots to play aggressive and go for it, and find the right balance of offence and defence."

The win set up a second round encounter against Croatia's Petra Martic, who overcame Czech player Marketa Vondrousova 7-6 (2), 6-3 in their first round tie to advance.

Elsewhere, former world number two and 2013 Auckland champion Agnieszka Radwanska was forced to dig deep to remain on a semifinal collision course with Wozniacki when the Pole eked out a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia.

Third seed Barbora Strycova was also taken the distance in her first round encounter against Italy's Sara Errani, the Czech emerging with a 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-4 victory to set up a second round tie against Sweden's Johanna Larsson.

Ostapenko bows out

In China, French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko slumped to a shock defeat in the first round of the Shenzhen Open, only days after beating Serena Williams in the American's comeback match.

Number two seed Ostapenko of Latvia lost to the big-serving Czech Krystina Pliskova 6-1, 6-4 in just an hour and 20 minutes.

Ostapenko had beaten Williams via a super tie-break 6-2, 3-6, 10-5 in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, but she had no answer to the power of Pliskova, identical twin sister of former world number one Karolina.

Earlier there had been disappointment for the home crowd when Chinese number three seed Zhang Shuai was bundled out in three sets by Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas.

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