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Tennis | WTA

Caroline Wozniacki © Gallo Images

Wozniacki loses to qualifier in Brisbane



Caroline Wozniacki's first trip to the Brisbane International ended in a shocking 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1) first-round loss to Kazakhstan qualifier Ksenia Pervak on Monday. After her early exit, she was quick to dismiss speculation about an engagement to golf No 1 Rory McIlroy.

Wozniacki, who held the year-end No 1 ranking in 2010 and 2011 but is yet to win a major title, had high-profile support from McIlroy in the crowd and there was a buzz around Pat Rafter Arena amid rumors the pair had become engaged in the off-season.

The 22-year-old Danish player was photographed with a new ring on her left hand as she arrived in Australia last week, sparking speculation of pending nuptials. She explained on Monday that the ring was a Christmas gift.

"It's already twice we've had to shut down engagement rumours," she said. "Don't worry, we'll let you know!"

On the court, Wozniacki raced to a 4-1 lead before finishing off the first set within a half hour. The Dane started to struggle with her serve as she lost the second set and then had difficulty in the third countering powerful groundstrokes from the left-handed Pervak in the first upset result of the tournament.

The 103-ranked Pervak, who lost in the first round at 14 tournaments last year, including Brisbane, started to hit the lines in the second set, showing match sharpness honed by playing in the qualifying tournament.

She was two points from victory, serving for the match at 5-3 and 30-15, but made a series of unforced errors to get broken and let the 10th-ranked Wozniacki get back into it.

Wozniacki held serve at love in the 12th game to force a tiebreaker but Pervak dominated from there, winning the first five points and securing the win with the first of her five match points when her rival missed with a timid forehand service return.

In earlier first-round matches, No 4-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany opened with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over Anna Tatishvili of Georgia and French Open finalist Sara Errani beat Russia's Olga Puchkova 6-1, 6-3.

Alize Cornet of France advanced to a second-round match against third-seeded Serena Williams with an opening 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 over Australian qualifier Bojana Bobusic, and Germany's Sabine Lisicki opened with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Lucie Safarova of Czech Republic to set up a second-round match against top-ranked Victoria Azarenka.

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