Belinda Bencic eased to a 6-0 6-2 final victory over Daria Kasatkina to claim the Adelaide International 2 crown on Saturday.

Both Bencic and Kasatkina did not have to play a semi-final after their respective opponents, Veronika Kudermetova and Paula Badosa, both pulled out with injuries.

Bencic romped to victory in the final though, dropping just two games against her Russian opponent to lift her first title in Australia.

The match lasted just 67 minutes, as the 2021 runner-up converted five of her seven break point opportunities while not facing a single break point herself.

Bencic rattled off eight games in a row to start the final, and though Kasatkina did save some face with a couple of holds late on, the world number 13 finished the job to win in straight sets ahead of the start of the Australian Open next week.

"I'm happy I could show my work here on the court," Bencic told reporters at a post-match news conference. "I thought I played some great matches from the start of the tournament and also against different kind of opponents so I really could test myself out there in every way and just go confidently into the Australian Open."

At the Hobart International, Lauren Davis ended a six-year title drought with a 7-6 (7-0) 6-2 triumph over Elisabetta Cocciaretto in an all-unseeded final.

In the opening set, every game went to serve until the tie-break, when Davis found three crucial breaks to take the advantage heading into the second stanza.

But the second set was not the same tight affair as Cocciaretto, playing in her first Tour-level singles final, collapsed to a 5-0 deficit to leave her staring down the barrel of defeat.

Davis, who herself was playing in a first Tour-level final since winning the trophy in Auckland in 2017, overcame losing the next two games to take the title having not lost a set at the tournament.

Davis was delighted after the match, saying: "I have a lot of emotions going through my body right now. I'm just really happy, really excited. I really had to play my best in order to win today."

Cameron Norrie will get a chance to cap his New Zealand homecoming with a title at the Auckland Open.

The British number one, who spent much of his childhood in New Zealand and Auckland specifically, reached his first ATP Tour-level final in the city in 2019, and has repeated that feat this time out.

Norrie made light work of Jenson Brooksby on Friday, winning 6-3 6-4.

He will face Richard Gasquet, who progressed via walkover due to Constant Lestienne's withdrawal through injury, in Saturday's showdown.

Norrie has won all six of his matches this season, three in Auckland and three at the United Cup, where he beat Rafael Nadal.

"It was an absolute battle with Jenson. A lot of long rallies and I know how well he competes, so it was nice to get it done in straight sets," said Norrie.

"He puts the ball in such awkward parts off the court and I had to come up with a lot of really tough shots on the run and a lot of big passes.

"I was able to serve it out and stay really calm and get over the line, but he's a great player."

At the Adelaide International 2, defending champion Thanasi Kokkinakis fell just short of reaching the final again.

He battled back from a set down to force a decider against Roberto Bautista Agut, but it was the Spaniard who prevailed 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3.

Bautista Agut will face Soonwoo Kwon in the final, after the world number 84 defeated Norrie's compatriot Jack Draper 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (2-7) 6-3.

Nick Kyrgios insists he is serious about being ready to quit tennis the minute he wins a singles grand slam title.

The Australian went close last year to ending his long wait, only to lose in four sets against Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final.

Now aged 27, Kyrgios wants to achieve glory at a major to satisfy that urge, before stepping off the court for good. If it comes at the Australian Open over the coming fortnight, it will be all the better for him.

Asked whether he stood by his previous comments, Kyrgios said: "A hundred per cent. It's a lot of training, a lot of work, and I just want to be able to eat whatever I want, drink what I want to drink and just relax.

"It's a hard lifestyle, the dedication these guys show day in day out. I did a bit of that last year, had a great year to show the world I'm still one of the best.

"I'm going to try to do it this year, and hopefully I can do it, but it'll be hard."

Kyrgios is ranked 21st by the ATP, but that can be considered a false position, given he collected no points for his career-best Wimbledon run. The tours stripped the London slam of ranking points due to its banning of players from Russia and Belarus.

The 1,200 points Kyrgios would ordinarily have taken away from the All England Club would have nudged him towards a top-10 placing.

There is the tantalising prospect of Kyrgios facing nine-time Melbourne Park champion Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open quarter-finals this year, and they went through a light-hearted dress rehearsal on Rod Laver Arena on Friday.

Speaking after that exhibition match, Djokovic said Kyrgios' two wins from their previous three tour-level encounters meant the sky was the limit for the man from Canberra.

"He is 2-1 against me, so as far as I'm concerned he can win anything," said Djokovic.

According to Djokovic, Kyrgios had been unaware of the potential for a meeting between the pair in the Australian Open last eight.

Serbian Djokovic has done his homework though, and appears to have mapped out his potential route to what would be a record-equalling 22nd men's singles grand slam title.

"I have to be honest, I think most of the guys are studying the draw pretty seriously, but you have to take it one match at a time," Djokovic said, speaking on Channel Nine.

"We think every player has so much motivation and inspiration to be able to play his best in the court, to perform well, so you cannot underestimate anybody, you cannot take any match for granted.

"It's a hopefully long two weeks. I know Nick and I are in the same part of the draw – he didn't know that by the way. Before the match I told him."

Novak Djokovic returned to action in front of a packed Rod Laver Arena crowd for the first time in two years, and declared: "It's great to be back."

The nine-time Australian Open champion was denied a role in last year's tournament when his vaccination status, having refused a COVID-19 jab, led to him being detained in a Melbourne immigration centre and later deported.

He was briefly released in January 2022 to practise at Melbourne Park before the tournament began, only to be effectively thrown out of the country days later.

With Australia's border controls having since been relaxed, and vaccination status no longer a condition of entry, Djokovic has had the red carpet rolled out this year, befitting his status as the most successful male singles player in the Australian Open's history.

He faced Nick Kyrgios in an exhibition match on Friday evening in Melbourne, with the stadium court sold out and the match screened on national television.

Kyrgios won 4-3 2-4 10-9, in what was a largely light-hearted encounter, a jumped-up practice session. It inevitably lacked the intensity of their last meeting, when Djokovic prevailed in four sets in the 2022 Wimbledon final.

A fierce backhand from Kyrgios in the match tie-break briefly caught out Djokovic, who was wrong-footed and volleyed out of court before slumping to the floor as though shot.

There was more than a little dramatic licence about his fall, and about the match in general, typified by the pair being joined on court by wheelchair players and a pair of leading juniors for the decisive tie-break.

The result did not matter, though it will if these two meet in the quarter-finals of the year's opening grand slam, as they might after the draw was revealed on Thursday.

Djokovic, who did not appear hampered by a recent hamstring niggle, told the crowd: "It just feels great to be back in Australia, back in Melbourne.

"This is the court and the stadium where I created the best memories of my tennis career. Back in 2008 it was the first time I won a grand slam here, and 15 years later I'm here again, and I'm competing at a high level, so I must be grateful for this opportunity to be here.

"Thank you guys for welcoming me in a good way tonight, I appreciate it."

It was a night for jollity and camaraderie, but should both reach that quarter-final date, Djokovic said: "I don't think we'll be this friendly to each other."

Kyrgios, who defended Djokovic during last year's January crisis, said of the 35-year-old Serbian: "It's so important to have him around.

"One of the greatest already left us last year, Roger [Federer], and I don't think we actually knew how special the guys are to our sport, so every time Novak's around at these events I want to beat him, even though I can't at a grand slam."

The Australian Open begins on Monday, when Djokovic facing Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena first. Djokovic is chasing a 22nd grand slam title, which would equal the men's singles record held by Rafael Nadal.

Kyrgios, yet to win a singles slam, starts against Russian Roman Safiullin.

Iga Swiatek has no interest in what people expect from her and the world number one will not be "living in the past" as she targets more success this season.

Swiatek was in a class of her own last year, winning a staggering eight titles to firmly establish herself as the best player in the world.

A second French Open title and a maiden US Open triumph were the highlights for the 21-year-old in a stellar 2022.

The Pole will start her quest to win the Australian Open with a first-round match against Germany's Jule Niemeier at Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

Swiatek is the favourite to be crowned champion at Melbourne Park, but will not be putting too much pressure on herself.

"When I don't care about what people think and what their expectations of me are, it's easier for me to succeed," Swiatek told BBC Sport.

"That was what I tried my best to do in 2022.

"Although I'm proud of them, I'm not going to try to match my previous achievements because it would not be constructive.

"A season like that is something amazing and rare. Sure, I would love to do it again, but it's not advantageous to live in the past."

Swiatek was beaten by Danielle Collins at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open 12 months ago.

Belinda Bencic will play Daria Kasatkina in the final of the Adelaide International 2, though neither of them had to play a semi-final.

Bencic was due to go up against Veronika Kudermetova in the second scheduled semi-final on Friday, only for the Russian to withdraw due to a hip injury.

It was a similar story for Kasatkina, who received a walkover after Paula Badosa pulled out of their match, citing a thigh problem.

While Bencic and Kasatkina will now get the chance to claim a trophy early in the season, the focus for Badosa and Kudermetova will be on regaining fitness in time for the Australian Open, which starts next week.

Badosa was confident she can recover for the upcoming major, where she has been drawn against American Caty McNally in the first round.

"I'm really disappointed that I had to withdraw because I was really looking forward to the match," Badosa told reporters.

"When I was playing [against Beatriz Haddad Maia], it was a very tough match, especially physical, so I felt a little bit in my abductor. I felt like I pulled it a little bit.

"I feel a little bit worse, so I have the Australian Open ahead, and I hope I can recover for that."

Badosa needed two hours and 35 minutes to get past the Brazilian on Thursday, having knocked off Anett Kontaveit and Kaia Kanepi in the earlier rounds.

"I played three really good matches," the Spaniard said. "I think that helps me, as well, on my confidence for the tournaments ahead. Now it's something that I cannot control, so it is what it is."

At the Hobart International, Elisabetta Cocciaretto set up a showdown with Lauren Davis.

Sofia Kenin, the 2019 champion, fell 7-5 4-6 6-1 to world number 67 Cocciaretto, who has reached her first Tour-level singles final.

"It’s unbelievable for me to be here in the final of such a great tournament, and I’m really happy about my performance," Cocciaretto said.

"[Kenin is] a very good player, I was a junior when she won the grand slam [2020 Australian Open], so for me it's an honour to play against her."

Davis, meanwhile, saw off Anna Blinkova in straight sets. She has not featured in a Tour-level final since clinching the trophy in Auckland in 2016.

Veronika Kudermetova saved five match points as she beat Danielle Collins to reach the Adelaide International 2 semi-finals before Belinda Bencic knocked Caroline Garcia out.

Sixth seed Kudermetova showed great defiance to defeat American Collins 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 on Thursday.

Kudermetova fended off five match points when serving to stay in the tournament at 6-5 down in the second set and duly forced a tie-break.

Collins, runner-up to Ash Barty in the Australian Open final last year, took a 3-0 lead in the breaker, but back came her Russian opponent to level the match.

The world number nine dominated the deciding set to seal a meeting with Bencic in the last four.

Eighth seed Bencic got the better of WTA Finals champion Garcia 6-2 3-6 6-4.

Garcia broke straight back after going 3-1 down in the final set, but Bencic broke for the fourth time in the match to go through.

Paula Badosa and Daria Kasatkina will contest the other semi-final after beating Beatriz Haddad Maia and Petra Kvitova respectively. 

Elisabetta Cocciaretto saved two match points as she came from a set down to beat Bernarda Pera 5-7 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 in the quarter-finals of the Hobart International. 

The 21-year-old Italian will now face 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, who also stormed back to defeat Anhelina Kalinina 4-6 6-3 6-1.

Lauren Davis and Anna Blinkova will do battle in the other semi-final following wins over Wang Xinyu and Yulia Putintseva respectively. 

At the Auckland Open, second-seed Briton Cameron Norrie beat American Marcos Giron 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 to set up a last-four clash with another player from the USA, Jenson Brooksby, who edged past France's Quentin Halys 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2).

The other semi-final will be an all-French battle between Richard Gasquet and Constant Lestienne, who both came from a set down to see off David Goffin and Laslo Djere respectively.

At the Auckland Open, second-seed Briton Cameron Norrie beat American Marcos Giron 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 to set up a last-four clash with another player from the USA, Jenson Brooksby, who edged past France's Quentin Halys 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2).

The other semi-final will be an all-French battle between Richard Gasquet and Constant Lestienne, who both came from a set down to see off David Goffin and Laslo Djere respectively.

At the Auckland Open, second-seed Briton Cameron Norrie beat American Marcos Giron 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 to set up a last-four clash with another player from the USA, Jenson Brooksby, who edged past France's Quentin Halys 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2).

The other semi-final will be an all-French battle between Richard Gasquet and Constant Lestienne, who both came from a set down to see off David Goffin and Laslo Djere respectively.

At the Auckland Open, second-seed Briton Cameron Norrie beat American Marcos Giron 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 to set up a last-four clash with another player from the USA, Jenson Brooksby, who edged past France's Quentin Halys 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2).

The other semi-final will be an all-French battle between Richard Gasquet and Constant Lestienne, who both came from a set down to see off David Goffin and Laslo Djere respectively.

Thanasi Kokkinakis is on a roll again at the Adelaide International 2 where the hometown hero and defending champion marched into the semi-finals on just two hours' sleep.

The Australian wildcard saw off Serbian sixth seed Miomir Kecmanovic 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 on Thursday to set up a semi-final against Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut.

Kokkinakis had a stellar run to the title at this tournament 12 months ago, beating John Isner and Marin Cilic before knocking over Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech in the final.

A first-round exit followed at the Australian Open, although he memorably won the doubles title with Nick Kyrgios. Kokkinakis struggled for the rest of the year, with his ranking currently at 110.

Kokkinakis said after his latest win: "I didn't sleep much last night. I reckon I got to sleep at about five and maybe slept for a couple of hours.

"I just couldn't sleep for whatever reason, so I was trying to conserve energy. I didn't want to use it too much. I had a couple of Monsters [energy drinks] before I started and tried to get going.

"When I'm serving well my whole game follows, and then when my forehand gets going I think I've been hitting my backhand really well this week. If I'm doing those three things, it's a good recipe.

"I grew up on this court when I was eight, nine, 10 years old. I showed up last year, and hopefully I can ride the wave with you guys and keep it going."

Fourth seed Bautista Agut beat compatriot Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3 6-2, while the other Adelaide semi-final will see British player Jack Draper tackle South Korean Kwon Soon-woo.

Draper, who has been drawn to face Rafael Nadal in round one of the Australian Open, beat Russian third seed Karen Khachanov 6-4 7-6 (7-3), while Kwon saw off Swedish qualifier Mikael Ymer 6-1 6-2.

At the Auckland Open, second-seed Briton Cameron Norrie beat American Marcos Giron 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 to set up a last-four clash with another player from the USA, Jenson Brooksby, who edged past France's Quentin Halys 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2).

The other semi-final will be an all-French battle between Richard Gasquet and Constant Lestienne, who both came from a set down to see off David Goffin and Laslo Djere respectively.

Nick Kyrgios has poured a chunk of his tennis fortune into Australian basketball team South East Melbourne Phoenix, already planning for a future beyond his tennis career.

The 27-year-old, who was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last year, said he could even get involved on the playing side with the Phoenix if he feels able.

That might be wishful thinking on behalf of the long-time basketball fan, who still has ambitions left in tennis, including the hope he will be a serious trophy contender at the Australian Open over the coming fortnight. 

Kyrgios joins Los Angeles Clippers star John Wall and a string of former NBA players in investing in the Phoenix, and he said on Thursday: "This is a big opportunity. Everyone knows my basketball roots, so to be a part of the NBL, it's a massive move for me in my career.

"I feel I've got some great relationships within that team already. I'm one of the tennis players that doesn't travel as often. I'm looking forward to being in Australia a bit more."

He said he would be "quite hands on", and it remains to be seen whether he does travel less in tennis, cutting down his tour commitments further. Of players ranked in the ATP top 25 – Kyrgios is number 21 – nobody has played fewer tournaments in the last year than the 14 events Kyrgios has entered.

"I've got a lot of things happening at the moment and this is one of the biggest," Kyrgios added. "My tennis career's not going to last forever. I've been on tour now for nine, 10 years and I feel I'm building that platform to have these experiences and relationships, so I've got to use it while I can.

"I'll do anything for the team. I'd get out there, rebound, play with them. If my body's up to it, I'll get out there, 100 per cent."

Last January saw Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis roar to doubles glory in Melbourne, but this time around Kyrgios is making the singles a clear priority.

He will face Russian Roman Safiullin in round one, after the draw was revealed on Thursday. Novak Djokovic is a potential quarter-final opponent.

"I'm one of the best players in the world, so I'm definitely going into the Australian Open, or any tournament, with confidence," Kyrgios said. "I've proven I can go deep in a grand slam, and with the support of the Phoenix and my team, and Australia on my back, hopefully it's going to be a good couple of weeks.

"It's a bit different for me, being one of the favourites. Usually I'm a dark horse.

"This is the first time I've gone into a slam feeling I'm one of the guys that can really take the trophy and knock on the door. Usually I've got a nothing-to-lose [attitude], just putting on a show, but I've got to really find that balance in the next two weeks.

"Obviously I'm capable, but there's so many more players in the draw who are capable as well."

Nick Kyrgios believes only "a clown" would give Novak Djokovic a hard time at the Australian Open as the Serbian chases a major slice of tennis history.

It was Kyrgios who prominently came to Djokovic's defence when the nine-time champion at Melbourne Park was detained in an immigration facility and then deported ahead of last year's Australian Open due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.

The previously testy relationship between the pair has become increasingly friendly, to the point they will meet in a practice match at Rod Laver Arena on Friday, ahead of the season's first grand slam. That match sold out in a flash, reflecting the popularity of both men.

Kyrgios described their growing closeness as a "bromance" at Wimbledon last year, although Djokovic laughed off that label.

Djokovic, who has refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, will have many on his side over the coming fortnight as he chases a 10th grand slam in Australia and a 22nd overall, which would match Rafael Nadal's men's singles record.

Tournament director Craig Tiley has said anyone that boos Djokovic would risk being thrown out, while Kyrgios called for "respect" to be shown to the 35-year-old superstar.

Kyrgios described Djokovic as "the best that we've got", adding: "I would say, Novak's here and he hasn't made any rules. He's abided by them for the last two years or whatever.

"He's here and all he wants to do is put on a show. He's chasing things that athletes rarely are able to chase. He's one of the greatest athletes of all time, not just in the tennis court.

"I think as fans we should be appreciating that. I know there's going to be fans who are not wanting him to win, but I think they can't cross that line as fans.

"You guys have paid money to watch a guy play, it's a bit contradictory if you're going to go there and be a clown about it.

"You've got to respect him a little bit at the end of the day because he's one of the best who's ever done it."

Kyrgios has a 2-1 record against Djokovic, though both of his wins came back in 2017 and Djokovic won in four sets in their last meeting: the 2022 Wimbledon final.

Should they both win through the early rounds in the season's first grand slam, the draw is such that they could go head to head again in the quarter-finals.

Already, Kyrgios is talking about possibly abandoning doubles duty with Thanasi Kokkinakis in order to focus on singles.

He and Kokkinakis took the doubles title last year, but Kyrgios said on Thursday: "We're singles players at heart and the doubles grand slam last year was a flash in the pan.

"We haven't had one conversation about doubles yet. If we play, we play; if we don't, we don't."

Nine-time champion Novak Djokovic will make his return to the Australian Open against Spain's world number 75 Roberto Carballes Baena.

After being deported from Australia last year amid a row over his refusal of a COVID-19 vaccination, Djokovic is firmly back in favour and chasing history in Melbourne, with a record-equalling 22nd men's singles grand slam in his sights.

He begins against an opponent who in four previous main draw appearances has only ever won one singles match at Melbourne Park.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal, whose 22 slam titles Djokovic is seeking to match, has a tricky opener against rising British star Jack Draper, the world number 40.

Second seed Casper Ruud will tackle Czech Tomas Machac first up, with the 115th-ranked player unlikely to prove too daunting an obstacle for last season's French Open and US Open runner-up.

Fifth seed Andrey Rublev could face an awkward assignment against wildcard and former US Open winner Dominic Thiem, while Australia's Nick Kyrgios begins against Russian Roman Safiullin.

Neither 13th seed Matteo Berrettini nor five-time runner-up Andy Murray would have been delighted to be paired together, but that is what happened in Thursday's draw.

In the women's singles, top seed Iga Swiatek starts her bid for a first Australian Open title against Germany's Jule Niemeier, who caught the eye last year on a run to the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

American seventh seed Coco Gauff starts against Czech Katerina Siniakova, while Jessica Pegula, Gauff's third-seeded compatriot who recently beat Swiatek in the United Cup, will face Belgian Jaqueline Cristian.

Gauff could face former US Open winner Emma Raducanu in the second round. Unseeded Briton Raducanu starts against Germany's Tamara Korpatsch.

Former champions Sofia Kenin and Victoria Azarenka go head to head in the first round, with American Kenin unseeded this year and Belarusian Azarenka the 24th seed.

Azarenka's compatriot Aryna Sabalenka is fancied to do well, having banished last year's serving yips, and the fifth seed starts against Czech Tereza Martincova.

Tunisian second seed Ons Jabeur, runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open, begins her latest quest for an elusive grand slam title against Slovenian world number 88 Tamara Zidansek.

Former US Open winner Bianca Andreescu is unseeded in Australia and Czech 25th seed Marie Bouzkova drew a possible short straw by getting the Canadian in round one.

Four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka has announced she is pregnant and is not expecting to play tennis again until next year.

The 25-year-old has not been in action since September and withdrew from the upcoming Australian Open on Sunday, but no reason was given for her prolonged absence.

However, Osaka revealed on her personal social media accounts on Wednesday that she is expecting her first child and will take a year out.

"Can't wait to get back on the court, but here's a little life update for 2023," she wrote alongside an image of an ultrasound. 

"The past few years have been interesting to say the least, but I find that it's the most challenging times in life that may be the most fun. 

"These few months away from the sport have really given me a new love and appreciation for the game I've dedicated my life to.

"I realise that life is so short and I don't take any moments for granted, every day is a new blessing and adventure. 

"I know that I have so much to look forward to in the future, one thing I'm looking forward to is for my kid to watch one of my matches and tell someone, 'that's my mom,' haha.

"2023 will be a year that'll be full of lessons for me, and I hope I'll see you guys at the start of the next one 'cause I'll be at Aus 2024. Love you all infinitely."

The Japanese former world number one won the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021, while also winning the US Open in 2018 and 2020.

Osaka is currently ranked 42nd in the world and has been replaced by Dayana Yastremska in the main draw for the opening grand slam of the year.

"I don't think there's a perfectly correct path to take in life," Osaka added in her post. "But I always felt if you move forward with good intentions you'll find your way eventually."

Danielle Collins needed seven match points to defeat Jil Teichmann at the Adelaide International 2 but ultimately progressed to the quarters.

Collins, seeded 10th, had victory in her grasp after reeling off four straight games in the second set.

Yet she was unable to get over the line at the first six times of asking, initially failing to serve out the win before Teichmann saved five match points.

Collins, though, regained momentum in the tie-break to win 6-3 7-6 (7-2).

World number nine Veronika Kudermetova is next up for Collins, having received a walkover to the last eight.

Caroline Garcia, the highest-ranked player left in the tournament, overcame Katerina Siniakova 6-3 3-6 7-5, but was made to work for her win.

Having been pegged back in the second set, Garcia seemed well set to push for victory when she went 3-1 up in the decider, but Siniakova broke and then held her serve to restore parity.

A tie-break looked likely until Garcia converted the third break point of a thrilling 12th game to claim victory.

Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open champion, was ousted by fifth seed Daria Kasatkina, who cruised through 6-2 7-5.

World number eight Kasatkina will take on two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova for a place in the last four.

Belinda Bencic also progressed, as did Paula Badosa and Beatriz Haddad Maia.

Anna Blinkova caused an upset at the Hobart International, dispatching top seed Marie Bouzkova 7-5 6-4.

Fifth seed Anhelina Kalinina is the favourite after Bouzkova's exit and a tie with 2019 champion Sofia Kenin is her reward for a win over Tatjana Maria. 

Casper Ruud was given a wake-up call ahead of the Australian Open as he was beaten by Laslo Djere in Auckland.

Ruud, who was beaten by Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open final last year, was the top seed in New Zealand but came unstuck in the round of 16 on Wednesday.

Djere came from behind to defeat the Norwegian world number three 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-3) and seal his place in the quarter-finals, where he will meet Constant Lestienne.

In the process, Djere recorded his first career victory over a top-five opponent.

Ruud must now shrug off the disappointment and switch his focus to Melbourne, where he will be hoping to break his grand slam duck.

David Goffin overcame qualifier Christopher Eubanks in straight sets to tee up a last-eight tie with Richard Gasquet, while Jenson Brooksby received a walkover due to Diego Schwartzman's injury.

Unlike Ruud, second seed Cameron Norrie did make it through. The world number 12, who spent the majority of his childhood in New Zealand, enjoyed a homecoming as he saw off Jiri Lehecka 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 6-3.

Norrie is unbeaten in 2023, having beat Alex De Minaur, Taylor Fritz and Rafael Nadal while in action for Great Britain at the United Cup.

"Obviously, there were [some] nerves in me, coming back to New Zealand I wanted to play well in front of everyone, and Jiri's a great player," said the 27-year-old.

"So, it wasn't easy, and credit to him in that second set for playing a really good tie-break. He really took it to me, but I really enjoyed the time on the court."

There was also a shock at the Adelaide International 2, where top seed Andrey Rublev succumbed to wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Rublev hit back after losing the first set but Kokkinakis ultimately prevailed 6-4 3-6 6-3.

Second seed Pablo Carreno Busta also fell out, losing to Kwon Soon-woo, leaving third seed Karen Khachanov as the favourite after his straight sets defeat of Marc-Andrea Huesler.

Mikael Ymer, Jack Draper, Miomir Kecmanovic, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Roberto Bautista Agut all progressed.

Novak Djokovic cut short a practice match against Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday as a hamstring injury lingers ahead of the Australian Open.

Record nine-time Melbourne champion Djokovic is back in Australia after he was denied entry last year and subsequently deported due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.

The 21-time major winner is expected to be a contender again at the first grand slam of the 2023 season, but his preparations were hampered by an injury scare on Wednesday.

Djokovic, who won his first title of the year in Adelaide last week, was able to complete only a single set of an exhibition against Medvedev.

"It's a hamstring that I had problems with in Adelaide actually last week," he explained to Nine's Wide World of Sports. "It was against Medvedev, when I played the semi-final, and I played with him today in a practice match.

"I just felt it a bit, pulling, and I didn't want to risk anything worse. I played a set, apologised to him, and he was understanding.

"I just want to avoid any bigger scares before the Australian Open."

Having required a lengthy medical timeout against Medvedev in Adelaide, Djokovic had described the issue as "nothing too serious".

The Serbian is also scheduled to play a practice match against home hopeful Nick Kyrgios this week.

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