Posted January 07, 2012 on AP on Fox
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Grand Slam champions Samantha Stosur and Francesca Schiavone will meet in the first round of the Sydney International - a rematch of their 2010 French Open final won by the Italian player. The high-profile encounter is a byproduct of the strength of the field - nine of the top 10 players in the WTA rankings are entered in tournament which begins Sunday. U.S. Open champion Stosur, who lost in the second round at the Brisbane International this week, is the fifth-seeded player, while 11th-ranked Schiavone was outside the eight seeds. Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, and Wimbledon champion and second-seeded Petra Kvitova have first-round byes. Third-seeded Victoria Azarenka and fourth-seeded Li Na of China, the 2011 French Open champion, have both drawn qualifiers in the first round. Li, also the Sydney defending champion, said drawing a qualifier didn't mean she'd have an easy route to the second round. ''This tournament is always tough, even in the qualies,'' Li said. ''It's stronger than any other tournament ... I play a qualifier, and that's not easy either. I know I won last year, but this year is another story.'' Wozniacki's top half of the draw is slightly easier than the bottom, where the winner of the Stosur-Schiavone match could face Kvitova in the quarterfinals at the Olympic Tennis Centre. Kvitova could take over the top ranking from Wozniacki if she wins the Sydney event. Juan Martin del Potro, top-seeded in the men's draw, No. 2-seeded John Isner, third-seeded Richard Gasquet and No. 4-seeded Feliciano Lopez have first-round byes. Australian Lleyton Hewitt, a four-time Sydney titleholder, will play fifth-seeded Viktor Troicki of Serbia in the first round. Hewitt is in the top half of the draw with del Potro and former champion Marcos Baghdatis.
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