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Top-ranked Israeli Anna Smashnova lost her first match of the new season on Monday at the Hobart International in Australia. Smashnova, ranked 40th in the world by the WTA, fell 6-2, 6-3 to American Laura Granville (59) in their first career meeting.
Granville broke the third-seeded Israeli early and often on her way to 3-0 and 5-1 leads in the opening set and never looked back.
Granville, 24, was complimentary of her opponent afterwards. "It was a tough match. I really had to play well to win," she told the tournament Web site.
The defeat marked the first time since 1997 that Smashnova lost her first match of the season.
Smashnova ended the day on a happy note when she recorded a rare doubles victory - just her second since April 2004. Smashnova and partner Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan upset the second-seeded Spaniards, Lourdes Dominguez Lino and Nuria Llagostera Vives, 6-4, 7-6(5). They will next face the team of Germany's Martina Muller and Laura Pous Tio of Spain in the quarterfinals.
On Tuesday, Shahar Pe'er will return to action at the Canberra International, where she is scheduled to meet former top 20 player, Eleni Daniilidou (96) of Greece, in the second round. Daniilidou defeated American Meghann Shaugnhessy (64) 6-3, 6-3 on Monday. Pe'er, the third seed, defeated Karolina Sprem (67) of Croatia in the opening round on Sunday.
Doubles team Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich, fresh off their title from Adelaide, are not scheduled to play their first match this week at the Medibank International in Sydney until Wednesday.
Hingis gets a reality check
Martina Hingis wanted to know how she compared with her current contemporaries after three years out of tennis.
The former top-ranked Swiss star got her best indication Monday, losing 6-3, 6-3 to French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne in 66 minutes at the Sydney International.
Hingis, who won the last of her five Grand Slam singles titles in 1999, won three matches last week on the Gold Coast in her first tournament since 2002, when she retired because of foot and heal problems.
Henin-Hardenne is one of five top 10 players in the women's draw in Sydney - the main tuneup tournament for the Australian Open starting next Monday in Melbourne - and a tough opener for Hingis.
"I chose to come [to Sydney] to know where I'm at," said Hingis, a three-time winner at Sydney and at the Australian Open. "I know what I'm aiming for now.
"It's good to know how I played, how the match went - she was at a different level today."
AP contributed to this report.
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