Martinez wins opening round

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The Independent Online

Third seed Conchita Martinez of Spain beat Austrian Sylvia Plischke 6-3, 6-4 today on the opening day of the Australian women's hardcourt tennis championships in Gold Coast, Australia.

Third seed Conchita Martinez of Spain beat Austrian Sylvia Plischke 6-3, 6-4 today on the opening day of the Australian women's hardcourt tennis championships in Gold Coast, Australia.

In other first-round matches today, Germany's Barbara Rittner beat 10th seed Magui Serna of Spain 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 and Rita Grande of Italy beat Australian Annabel Ellwood 2-6, 6-0, 6-2.

Martinez, who won Wimbledon in 1994, slumped to a career-low ranking of 15 at the end of last year. Rated as one of the best chances for the Gold Coast event, she said it was her goal this year to break back into the top 10.

"If I keep winning I'll be happy," she said today. "Last year was a hard year for me because my ranking was the lowest ever in my career.

"My goal is to get into the top 10, but tennis is getting harder and harder and this is a really good tournament and a good field."

Top-seed Julie Halard-Decugis of France, who was struck down by the flu two days ago, will play in her first match on Monday in doubles, with her first singles match set for Tuesday.

Results from the Australian women's hardcourt tennis championships at the Royal Pines complex in Gold Coast, Australia:

First Round

Conchita Martinez (3), Spain, beat Sylvia Plischke, Austria, 6-3, 6-4.

Rita Grande, Italy, beat Annabel Ellwood, Australia, 2-6, 6-0, 6-2.

Sabine Appelmans (8), Belgium, beat Erika De Lone, United States, 6-4, 7-5.

Barbara Rittner, Germany, beat Magui Serna (10), Spain, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

Kveta Hrdlickova (12), Czech Republic, beat Laurence Courtois, Belgium, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Silvija Talaja, Croatia, beat Nicole Arendt, United States, 6-3, 6-1.

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