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Djokovic Serbs cold, sent out

sports Updated: Jan 06, 2009 21:50 IST

Novak Djokovic's preparations for his Australian Open defence suffered an unexpected setback on Tuesday when the Serb was knocked out of the Brisbane International in the first round.

The 21-year-old world number three lost his debut match at the brand new Pat Rafter Arena to former training partner Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 6-4 6-4.

Facing the prospect of arriving in Melbourne with only one competitive match under his belt this season before the start of the Open on Jan. 19, Djokovic asked for and was granted a wildcard entry into next week's Sydney International. "I am not panicking," he told reporters. "The Australian Open is my highest goal for this part of the year and I really want to play well there.

There were fewer casualties amongst the seeds on Tuesday.

The women's second seed, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, survived a torrid workout from Slovakia's Jarmila Gajdosova before winning 7-6 7-5 while third seed Marion Bartoli of France came from behind to defeat Hungary's Melinda Czink 5-7 6-3 6-1.

Dementieva overcomes Auckland scare

Wellington: Olympic champion Elena Dementieva survived a stern test to beat little-known Taiwanese Chan Yung-jan 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the Auckland Classic on Tuesday.

Top seed Dementieva was in danger of being humiliated by a player ranked 69 places below her when she trailed 5-1 in the opening set.

But the Russian world number four showed her pedigree to battle back and win her first match of the season.

Danish second seed Caroline Wozniacki avoided any drama when she walloped Italian qualifier Alberta Brianti 6-1 6-0 in less than an hour. Britain's Anne Keothavong, ranked a career-high 60th in the world this week, enjoyed a 6-4 6-2 victory over Mirjana Lucic of Croatia.

Italy down France in Hopman Cup

Sydney: Flavia Pennetta and Simone Bolelli joined forces on Tuesday to steer Italy to a 2-1 win over France at the Hopman Cup in Perth.

France won the opening rubber when Alize Cornet beat Pennetta 7-5 6-2 but Bolelli squared the tie at 1-1 with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Gilles Simon, his first ever win against a player ranked in the world's top 10. The Italians then teamed up to win the deciding mixed doubles encounter 6-4 7-6 to remain in contention for a place in the final after their loss to Russia on Sunday.