SYDNEY — Slovakia’s world No. 6 Dominika Cibulkova dropped just two games in blistering heat to win her opening match at the Sydney International Monday.
The diminutive Cibulkova, who upset world No. 1 Angelique Kerber to win the WTA finals in Singapore last October, swept past Germany’s world No. 31 Laura Siegemund 6-2, 6-0.
Cibulkova, who lost to China’s Li Na in the 2014 Australian Open final, will next play Canadian wild card Eugenie Bouchard in the second round of the WTA lead-in tournament to next week’s Australian Open.
“When you start a season, you always start with some confidence, not doubt, but you always need to get into this match rhythm,” said Cibulkova. “This is the time of the year when you just have to warm up yourself in the matches.”
Cibulkova, who lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in the Sydney final four years ago, was knocked out in the quarterfinals of last week’s Brisbane International by France’s Alize Cornet in straight sets.
Kerber and Radwanska, the top two seeds, have a bye into the second round at Sydney.
Former world No. 1 and seventh seed Caroline Wozniacki dumped Olympic champion and last year’s finalist Monica Puig out of the tournament 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.
Puig, who lost to Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova in last year’s final, had 12 break point opportunities but could only convert three, while Wozniacki put away three of four break points.
British sixth seed Johanna Konta was too strong for Australian Arina Rodionova 6-3, 6-4 and fellow Australian Samantha Stosur again bombed out in the first round, going out 6-3, 6-1 to Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Russian eighth seed Elena Vesnina withdrew with a lower back injury when trailing American Coco Vandeweghe 6-2, 4-0.
Russian-born Australian Daria Gavrilova advanced with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-1) win over Croatia’s Donna Vekic in a night match.
In the men’s draw, Australian qualifier Matthew Barton eliminated British No. 2 Kyle Edmund 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-5) and will next face either Gilles Muller or Alexandr Dolgopolov.
German fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber ousted Italy’s Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-4 and Italian Paolo Lorenzi needed two tiebreakers to overcome German Florian Mayer 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (7-5).
Lopez survives scare
In Auckland, Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez scraped through the opening round of the ATP Auckland Classic Monday after a scare from local wildcard Michael Venus.
With the top-ranked players at the New Zealand tournament given a bye through to the second round, the lesser seeds took center stage but struggled to dominate.
Lopez, seeded sixth, came from behind to grind out a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over New Zealander Venus, a doubles specialist rated No. 1,035 in the singles rankings.
American seventh seed Steve Johnson also made a faltering start in his 6-4, 6-3 win over Stephane Robert of France.
Dutchman Robin Haase overcame local hope Finn Tearney 6-4, 7-5 but the world No. 58 was also unconvincing.
Czech Jiri Vesely, the 2015 champion, ousted Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-4, 6-3, while Tunisia’s Malak Jaziri advanced with a 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 win over Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.
Germany’s Dustin Brown beat Michael Mmoh of the United States 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-4.