No.5 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova knocked out Irina-Camelia Begu to commence her title defense at the Apia International Sydney.
WTA Staff

SYDNEY, Australia - No.5 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova began her title defense at the Apia International Sydney with a decisive 6-1, 6-4 win over Irina-Camelia Begu.

"I started the year quite good with the feeling on court," she said in her post-match press conference. "Sometimes the results don't go with how you're feeling, but I feel very good at the start of the year."

It was a year ago that Kuznetsova came to Sydney to begin what would become her best season in nearly six years, but shrugged off the pressure of going for a second straight victory.

"I'm not thinking about defending my title. The trophy is at home and nobody can take it away from me. This is another year and another opportunity to play. I always feel like I need a lot of matches at the start of the year. I remember going to Auckland and not winning a single match. Then I came here and it gave me matches, confidence.

"If I played five weeks in a row at the end of last year, I can do three or four weeks here."

The Russian veteran showed off similar form for much of the match against Begu, who struggled through the 31-minute opening set.

Winning 10 of the first 12 games, the former World No.2 was on course for a seamless victory before the Romanian mounted a mini-comeback, drawing even at 4-4 in the second.

"What happened? What typically happens in a tennis match. I think I started to play more defensively, and she felt like she had nothing to lose. I got too passive.

"We practiced in December because she was also in Dubai; we played a practice match and that was good because I was able to remember her game.

"It's a different style; she stays farther behind the baseline, not so much inside. She serves good, and it was hard to read."

Kuznetsova closed the door from there, and served out her spot in the second round, where she'll meet either 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur or compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

"Overall, I think I did good, except for those four games when I didn't play so good."