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South bows out

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:14

The pair have met on three previous occasions in Eastbourne in 2007 and Montreal last year when the Frenchwoman won, and last week in Sydney when the encounter was cut short as Bartoli withdrew with a calf injury.

There were no such dramas in Melbourne, although the 24-year-old world number 17 was made to work hard for her victory.

British number two South, ranked 85 places below her opponent, had her serve broken in the fourth game of the opening set to go 3-1 down but she broke back immediately to keep herself in the hunt. However, the Frenchwoman rallied quickly to claim a 4-2 lead with yet another break of serve and took the final two games to win the set 6-2.

South, 22, in her first appearance at the Australian Open, started the second set strongly, going out to a 2-1 lead after converting her second break point in the third game. She held her serve then broke Bartoli, a runner-up at Wimbledon in 2007, again to take a 4-1 lead.

But Bartoli showed all her experience to level things at 4-4 and made no mistake in the final two games to round off her win. She will now play Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.

Elsewhere, Romanian Monica Niculescu has ended the Australian Open hopes of Katie O’Brien.

O’Brien, in her first appearance in the main draw in Melbourne, went down 6-4 6-4.

The win maintains Niculescu’s perfect run against the British 22-year-old following her victory in Istanbul in 2007.

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