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(L) Heather Watson: Beaten by Tsvetana Pironkova in Melbourne (R) Victoria Azarenka: Too good for Sloane Stephens

Watson suffers Melbourne exit, Azarenka through

Heather Watson crashed out of the Australian Open in the first round, losing 6-4 6-0 to Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova, according to Sky Sports.

The British No 1 came into the year’s first Grand Slam on the back of winning the second WTA Tour title of her career in Hobart on Saturday.

That elevated her to a career-high world ranking of 38 and meant she was full of confidence ahead of her opening match.

However, it soon became apparent that Watson was not at 100 per cent as she lost three of her first four service games in the blustery conditions to trail 5-2.

At that point the 22-year-old called the trainer to court 10 for a lengthy consultation, during which she appeared to take on some fluids and energy gel.

It briefly did the trick as Watson immediately retrieved one of the breaks of serve and held to make it 5-4, but former Wimbledon semi-finalist Pironkova took her second chance to serve out the opening set.

Watson lost her serve again in the first game of the second set but was trying hard to remain in the contest.

Two backhand winners saved break points in the third game and prompted cries of “Come on” from the right-hander, but a forehand long gifted Pironkova a 3-0 lead.

Backed by some noisy fans, the Bulgarian took the next three games as well to complete her win and set up a meeting against last year’s Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova.

Watson, whose 2013 season was ruined by glandular fever, confirmed she had lacked energy throughout the contest after waking up feeling “bloated and weak” the past two days.

I just struggled on the court to have energy and against any player here you can’t be like that, it’s tough enough when you are fit,” Watson said. “The trainer gave me some gels and Powerade with salt in it but there’s nothing they can really do.

“It’s really frustrating, especially at the one time I really wanted all my energy and wanted to be 100 per cent, but it happens and I should have handled it better.

“I did not celebrate (winning in Hobart) too much because I had the Australian Open on my mind, but it’s a real shame. It sucks.”

The diminutive Slovakian Cibulkova, seeded 11th this year, recovered from a slow start against Belgian veteran Kirsten Flipkens to edge her way into the second round with a 3-6 6-3 6-1 win.

Cibulkova will be determined to build on her Grand Slam success in Melbourne last year where she lost in straight sets to China’s Li Na.

Azarenka through

Victoria Azarenka continued her love affair with the bright blue courts as the unseeded two-time former champion cruised to a 6-3 6-2 first round victory over Sloane Stephens.

Azarenka, 25, showed she will be a dangerous floater in the draw after being unseeded at a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2007 US Open following a run of injuries that restricted her to just nine tournaments last year.

She broke the 21-year-old American three times in the first set to clinch it in 29 minutes, and while Stephens fought off five break points in the second game of the second set, her resistance then faded and the tall Belarusian romped to the win.

“You’ve got to win seven matches to win a title and this was a great first round for me to really test my game,” the 25-year-old said.

“I’m happy with what I did… Sloane’s a tricky opponent who has big weapons so I tried to stay aggressive and take every opportunity and control the game. I really had to stay focused and composed.”

It is the third successive year Azarenka has beaten Stephens at Melbourne Park, the only place they have met on the WTA circuit, and she will next play eighth-seed Caroline Wozniacki.

Denmark’s Wozniacki, another former world No 1, had a tougher assignment against American teenager Taylor Townsend, who made her work hard for a 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 win.

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