Sloane Stephens faced a setback in her Australian Open preparation as she bowed out in the first round of the Hobart International, losing a closely contested match against China's Yuan Yue with a scoreline of 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5).
The Chinese world number 73 secured the victory after nearly three hours of intense play, breaking Stephens when she served for the match at 6-5 in the third set. Yuan expressed her joy and excitement, emphasizing the significance of defeating a Grand Slam champion like Stephens.
Meanwhile, former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin started her Hobart International campaign on a positive note with a decisive 6-3, 6-3 victory over Greet Minnen of Belgium. Kenin, who successfully saved all three break points she faced, is set to face Daria Saville in the next round for a chance to advance to the quarterfinals.
In Adelaide, sixth seed Jelena Ostapenko overcame a sluggish start to triumph over Sorana Cirstea 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round of the Adelaide International, seeking redemption after Cirstea defeated her at Wimbledon last year.
Laura Siegemund, part of the Germany team that recently won the United Cup title, caused an upset by defeating world number 14 Liudmila Samsonova 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-4.
In a separate event, Denis Shapovalov made his return to the tour at the Auckland Classic after last year's Wimbledon, but faced a 6-4, 6-2 loss to Sebastian Ofner.
The competition at both tournaments continues, setting the stage for intense battles as players vie for success in the lead-up to the Australian Open.