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Stephens out in first-round boilover, Keys rolls on

7 January 2020, by

UPDATED: Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens is out at the first hurdle of the Brisbane International, falling to Liudmila Samsonova, a qualifier ranked more than 100 places beneath her.

Stephens struggled early on against the free-swinging Russian but looked to have steadied when she secured the second set.

But Samsonova – who had earlier beaten Fed Cup-winning hero Kristina Mladenovic in qualifying – snapped the world No.24’s momentum and clinched her passage into the second round, 6-4 2-6 6-3.

Despite serving 14 double faults, Samsonova was more effective on serve, winning 73 per cent of first-serve points and saving nine of 12 break points faced.

The match was ultimately on the 21-year-old’s terms. Her 40 winners and 41 unforced errors were double those of Stephens’.

She will next take on the winner of No.5 seed Petra Kvitova or Russian compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Earlier, Stephens’ countrywoman Madison Keys had fewer hassles against her first-round qualifying opponent, Marie Bouzkova.

The No.8 seed cruised past the Czech 6-3 6-3 to book a second-round showdown with Australian Samantha Stosur.

“For a first match, I felt pretty good out there,” Keys said. “I really like these courts here. They play pretty fast and it’s always nice to go out and just feel like everything is pretty easy and drama-free for your first round.”

Keys was wary of facing the veteran Stosur, a player whom she had fallen to in all three previous matches.

“Sam’s always tough,” Keys said.  “It’s … hard to play someone who is going to be playing at home and have the crowd and all that.

“She has a great kick serve and a great forehand and she uses it really well. She had to have played well to beat Angie yesterday.

“That’s not an easy first round. But, yeah, I’m looking forward to it and hopefully get a win for once.”

More to come …