Hobart, TAS, 8 January 2019 | AAP

Victorian youngster Zoe Hives has shown composure beyond her years to notch a maiden WTA win in the opening round of the Hobart International.

In her tour-level main-draw debut, the 22-year-old outlasted the experienced Johanna Larsson 7-6(1) 7-6(2) in a little over two hours on Tuesday.

Wildcard Hives, ranked 211th in the world and 136 places below the 30-year-old Swede, was cheered on by her parents in the stands.

“I heard mum at the end go ‘woo!’, so she’s very happy,” Hives said.

“Early on I felt a little nervous and it was really swirly, difficult conditions out there. I served so well in the tiebreak and didn’t tighten up at all.”


Hives, who was this month granted an Australian Open wildcard, had a strong 2018 in the second-tier ITF league, winning three titles and improving her ranking by 169 places.

She contested Brisbane qualifying to start the season, where she beat former US Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer.

Hives will meet Belinda Bencic in the second round after the Swiss former world No.7 came from behind to beat last year’s finalist and second seed Mihaela Buzarnescu 4-6 6-3 7-5 on a day where the tournament’s top three seeds fell.

Bencic battled the wind and her nerve in a final set with nine service breaks.

“It was very hard work. I’m a really emotional player on the court, and then the wind comes and I’m even more emotional,” she said.

Third seed and world No.40 Zhang Shuai was upset by Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova in three sets, while American Sofia Kenin dismantled top seed Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-2.

Hives is the sole Australian remaining at Hobart after qualifier Alison Bai lost to 2016 winner Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2.