Ana Ivanovic slumped to her second first round defeat in as many weeks when she lost 6-4, 6-2 to Karolina Pliskova at the Sydney International on Sunday.
A week after the former world number one lost to world number 122 in her first match in Brisbane, Ivanovic’s preparation for the Australian Open seems in tatters.
The 2008 French Open winner seemed sluggish throughout the match, as Pliskova set the pace from the off.
Pliskova, ranked 11th, is scheduled to take on top seed Simona Halep in the quarter-finals should the draw follow the seedings.
“I was thinking, it’s not really (an) easy draw for first round,” Pliskova said of her meeting with Ivanovic.
“I know she got the wildcard and obviously she’s a great player. She can beat anyone.
“I was really expecting a tough match. I’m just happy it went a little bit more my way and I think it was a solid win for me today.”
This week’s Australian Open tune-up event in Sydney presents the 23-year-old Czech with a great opportunity to have plenty of court time, following the withdrawals of defending champion Petra Kvitova and second seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova is still recuperating from the stomach bug she picked up at the Shenzhen Open last week while Radwanska, who won the tournament in China, is struggling with a left leg injury.
“I’m really disappointed to have to withdraw from the Apia International Sydney but unfortunately I am still not feeling well,” Kvitova said.
Radwanska, meanwhile, says she should be able to recuperate sufficiently to be fit for the Australian Open with a week’s rest.
“I’m really sorry that I can’t play the Apia International Sydney this week. I am feeling very confident in my game at the moment and the results are there, but after five matches in the past week my leg needs some recovery time,” Radwanska said.
The ailments of Kvitova and Radwanska adds to the growing list of injured women’s players ahead of the start of the season’s first grand slam event.
The top four in the world – Serena Williams (knee), Halep (Achilles), Garbine Muguruza (foot) and Maria Sharapova (forearm) – have all had staccatoed preparations for the Melbourne show-piece, while Aussie number one Sam Stosur is also battling a wrist problem.
Meanwhile, former world number one Jelena Jankovic rebounded from a first-round exit in Brisbane with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Coco Vandeweghe, while 2014 champion Tsvetana Pironkova upset Lesia Tsurenko 7-6, 6-2.
Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova booked her place in the second round with a 6-2, 6-0 demolition of Australian wildcard Tammi Patterson.