Anett Kontaveit grabs her first win of the year at the Sydney Tennis Classic

Anett Kontaveit celebrates

The Sydney Tennis Classic warm-up event is well underway and world No 7 Anett Kontaveit has clocked her first win of the year by beating China’s Zhang Shuai.

The Estonian returned to winning way by beating Zhang 6-3, 6-3,  picking up where she left off last season as she claimed victory in 29 of her 34 matches.

She is now through to the round of 16 in the competition and will face either 24-year-old Elena-Gabriel Ruse from Romania or Polish Magdalena Frech.

“I think I have this inner confidence but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself,” the former world No 7 said.

“The end of the season was physically very demanding and although now I’m feeling good and ready to play again, it’s going to be a new season and just really happy to be back competing.”

World No 9 Paula Badosa also picked up a win in her opening round at the warm-up event in Sydney, seeing off Lativa’s Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (7/1), 6-1.

Fellow Spaniard Garbine Muguraza is placed top seed in the competition after Australian Ashleigh Barty pulled out of the tournament to recover following her wins at the Adelaide International last week – Muguraza has a first round-bye so her opening match will be a round of 16 tie with No 5 Ena Shibahara from Japan or 27-year-old Russian player Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Elsewhere, former Wimbledon champion Czech Petra Kvitova came from a set down in her match against Arantxa Rus to win 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 while 2020 WTA Player of the Year Sofia Kenin crashed out of the competition after falling to Kremlin Cup winner Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 6-0.

Iga Swiatek was due to be playing Emma Raducanu in the opening round at Sydney but she too pulled out of the event in order to get more recovery time in before the Australian Open – the British 19-year-old will now face Adelaide International finalist Elena Rybakina.

The Sydney Tennis Classic runs until January 15, then the Australian Open gets underway from January 17.