Serena Williams draws Stosur in 1st round

Serena Williams won't be counting on too much crowd support in her Sydney International opener after drawing Samantha Stosur in a first-round match.

updated: January 10, 2009 19:10 IST
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Top-seeded Serena Williams won't be counting on too much crowd support in her Sydney International opener after drawing Australian Samantha Stosur in a first-round match.

Saturday's draw matched the pair who last played at the Beijing Olympics in August when Stosur won only two games.

Williams, ranked No. 2 and last year's U.S. Open winner, pulled out of the WTA Championships last November and later from the U.S. team for the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia, due to a lingering hamstring injury.

She arrived in Australia this week saying she was injury-free.

Second-seeded Dinara Safina of Russia, a losing finalist at Friday's Hopman Cup team event with her brother Marat Safin against Slovakia, will play Sorana Cirstea of Romania in the first round at the Olympic Park Tennis Centre, the 2000 Games venue in western Sydney.

In the joint ATP-WTA tournament, top-seeded Novak Djokovic and third-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga both have received first-round men's byes and could meet in the semifinals. Djokovic beat Tsonga in last year's Australian Open final.

Djokovic, who was beaten in the first round of the Brisbane International last week by Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, accepted a wild card to play in Sydney. Usually, he takes the week off before a Grand Slam.

"I wasn't supposed to play here but I decided to because of the lack of the matches prior to the Australian Open and I need some more official matches so I can get into the rhythm," Djokovic said.

Djokovic, who relaxes by playing golf with his coach, is experimenting with a new racket.

"Of course you have to hit a lot of balls and you just have to feel comfortable," he said. "I didn't feel in Brisbane comfortable with the racket and with the circumstances, but it's going to be better."

The pick of the men's first-round matches has defending champion Dmitry Tursunov, a California-based Russian, playing Richard Gasquet of France. The winner will play No. 2 seed Gilles Simon of France, who also has a first-round bye along with No. 4 seed David Nalbandian of Argentina.

"That's a difficult first match," said Tursunov, who took part in the public draw Saturday. "I was trying to get my name to come out maybe in another part. There are a lot of tough seeds and maybe there can be some upsets and I hope I can have a few upsets."

Four-time Sydney men's champion and former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, an unseeded wild card now ranked 68, drew a qualifier in the first round.

Some first-round matches will be played Sunday.