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Published: Saturday January 5, 2013 MYT 10:27:00 AM

Tennis: Stosur in Zheng clash ahead of Australian Open

SYDNEY: Former US Open champion Samantha Stosur faces a tough opponent in China's Zheng Jie in the first round of the Sydney International, a critical lead-up to her Australian Open campaign.

World number nine Stosur has had a rocky build-up to her home Grand Slam, being dumped in the first round of the Brisbane International last week by Swede Sofia Arvidsson who took full advantage of the Australian's 48 unforced errors.

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki will also be hoping for some valuable court time at the Sydney tournament, which begins Sunday, ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year after her first round loss in Brisbane to a qualifier.

Wozniacki was bundled out of the competition by Kazakhstan's Ksenia Pervak in a battle lasting almost three hours, in which Pervak bested her 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/1).

Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, world No four, heads a strong women's field for the Sydney tournament, which includes three Grand Slam champions - China's Li Na, the Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova and Australia's Stosur.

Radwanska, who will be coming straight from Saturday's final of the ASB Classic tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, has a bye in the first round.

She is joined in the top half of the draw by eighth seed Nadia Petrova, former world number one Jelena Jankovic and former top five player Daniela Hantuchova.

In the lower half, Wozniacki will face number 31 Urszula Radwanska, Agnieszka's younger sister, while German number two seed Angelique Kerber has a bye into the second round.

Third seed and last year's French Open finalist Sara Errani will play a qualifier in her first-round match, and could face a potential clash with 2011 Wimbledon champion Kvitova in the quarter-finals.

In the men's draw, top seed Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has withdrawn with a hamstring injury sustained while playing for France in the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth on Friday.

Tsonga was the second top seed to drop out of the Sydney event after his compatriot Richard Gasquet, world number 10, pulled out for personal reasons.

The Sydney International takes place from January 6 to 12. - AFP

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