British trio making progress towards the Australian Open

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Great Britain’s Laura Robson breezed through the first round of qualifying for the Australian Open with a straight-sets win over American Melanie Oudin.

The 17-year-old, seeded 14, won 6-3 6-4 to set up a meeting with Italy’s Anna Floris.

The Melbourne-born Briton, who reached the second round of Wimbledon and the US Open last year, broke four times, dropping her serve twice.

Naomi Broady joined Robson in the second round as she saw off the challenge of another American, Ashley Weinhold, 6-4 5-7 6-3.

In the men’s qualifying draw, James Ward came back from a set down to go forward to the second round.

Ward, who is the 32nd seed, lost the first set against Inigo Cervantes-Huegun but won successive sets on court four to seal a 6-7 (2/7) 7-6 (7/3) 6-1 win and will meet Czech Ivo Minar in the next round.

Irishman Conor Niland went out after losing his first-round match to Switzerland’s Stephane Bohli 6-3 6-2.

Petra Kvitova’s hopes of replacing Caroline Wozniacki as world No 1 before the start of the Australian Open were ended by defeat to Li Na in the semi-finals of the Sydney International.

The Czech second seed would have taken top spot from the Dane, who crashed out the previous day, by winning the tournament.

But Chinese fourth seed Li, the French Open champion and Australian Open finalist last year, came from a set down to clinch a 1-6 7-5 6-2 win.

Li will take on Belorussian Victoria Azarenka in the final after the third seed saw off Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 1-6 6-3 6-2.

Belgian top seed Yanina Wickmayer made short work of Romania’s Simona Halep to move into the semi-finals of the Hobart International with a 6-4 6-0 win in 57 minutes.

She will play Israel’s Shahar Peer in the last four and fourth seed Angelique Kerber will meet fellow German Mona Barthel in the other semi-final.

Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber knocked out second seed Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Open in Auckland.

Kohlschreiber, the eighth seed, beat the Spaniard 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 in one hour 34 minutes. The 28-year-old will play Olivier Rochus in the last four after the veteran Belgian ended Benoit Paire’s impressive run with a 6-3 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 win.