WTA Tour

Kuznetsova joins seed exodus in Auckland

Svetlana Kuznetsova (AP)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (AP)

Wellington - Svetlana Kuznetsova joined the growing list of seeded players making an early exit from the WTA Auckland Classic on Wednesday while tour battlers continued to shine.

Fourth seed Kuznetsova was beaten in straight sets by Austrian qualifier Tamira Paszek while seventh seed Barbora Strycova went down to German Julia Goerges.

Going into the quarter-finals on Thursday, third-seed Caroline Wozniacki and fifth-seed Sloane Stephens are the only seeded players remaining and both are in the same half of the draw.

The exit of the big names began in the first round when Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic were both beaten.

Williams conqueror, Daria Kasatkina, could progress no further, beaten in her second match by 66th-ranked Nao Hibino of Japan.

However, Naomi Broady followed up from her upset victory over Ivanovic to come from one set down to beat Latvian Jelena Ostapenko 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 in a spiteful match.

During the second-set tie-break, Broady appealed for Ostapenko to be disqualified after the Latvian threw her racket and it appeared to hit a ballboy, however the umpire allowed play to continue.

"It was quite clear that she threw her racket and it hit a ball kid, which should be straight disqualified," Broady said.

"The chair umpire said Jelena said to him that it slipped from her hand, so he said it was just a code violation or something."

Paszek, ranked 172, and fellow qualifier Kirsten Flipkins, who turns 30 on Sunday and is ranked 85, have emerged as two of the strongest underdogs but are set to clash in the quarter-finals.

Flipkins made the final eight with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win over American Irina Falconi.

"Anything could happen from here. Paszek will be a tough opponent. She beat Kuznetsova quite easy. I saw a little bit of the match and she was on fire," Flipkins said.

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