Eugenie Bouchard worrying form continues after Hobart International loss


HOBART — Former world No. 5 Eugenie Bouchard will enter the Australian Open without a summer win under her belt after being ousted in the opening round in Hobart.

Heavy-hitting Belarusian teen Aryna Sabalenka on Monday eliminated the wildcard and 2016 Hobart finalist 6-4 6-3.

It leaves Bouchard winless in her Aussie campaign, having dropped all three singles matches at last week’s Hopman Cup.

The former Wimbledon finalist withdrew from her last mixed doubles match in Perth with a buttock injury but insisted that wasn’t causing her any ongoing problems.

“It’s not where I want to be,” she said of her recent form after hitting 12 double faults in her loss to the 19-year-old Sabalenka.

“But I’ll just take away another match as part of the learning process and just keep going.

“Unfortunately, now I’ll have time to practise over there (in Melbourne).”

It was a mixed day for the tournament’s top seeds, with world No. 37 Sorana Cirstea the biggest casualty.

The third seed was beaten 7-5 6-3 by 2015 Hobart winner Heather Watson, who battled her way through qualifying and into the main draw.

Watson will face Melbourne teenager Jaimee Fourlis in the second round.

Fourlis – the only Australian left in the singles draw – picked up her maiden WTA win in the same tournament in which she made her top-level debut last season.

The 18-year-old outlasted Serbian qualifier Nina Stojanovic 7-5 7-6 (11-9) in a match that went for more than two hours.

Chinese top seed Shuai Zheng downed Poland’s Magda Linette in straight sets to set up a meeting with Sabalenka.

Defending champion and second seed Elise Mertens had no opening-round problems, breezing past Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara 6-0 6-4 in 72 minutes.

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