Reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu failed to fire a shot in her first-round match at the Sydney Tennis Classic on Tuesday night.
Ninth seed Elena Rybakina, who finished runner up to Ash Barty at the Adelaide International last week, was far too good for Raducanu 6-0, 6-1 in just 55 minutes.
The young Brit struggled with the depth of shot from Rybakina and was overpowered from start to finish.
Raducanu will now tackle the Australian Open with just the one match under her belt – far from an ideal preparation before the first Slam of the year.
Earlier, Raducanu’s compatriot Andy Murray advanced to the second round of the Sydney Tennis Classic with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Norway’s Viktor Durascovic.
Murray’s trip down under got off to a rocky start at the Melbourne Summer Set last week but Tuesday night was a step in the right direction for the five-time Australian Open finalist.
The Scotsman was far too consistent for Durasovic who won just one point on the Murray first serve for the match.
Post-match Murray revealed that he’s recently made the switch to a “more forgiving” Head racquet.
"Last week was the first time I played a match with a different racquet in 20 years,” Murray said.
"I'm still getting used to it but it’s really nice to get my range here and hopefully I can take it with me down to Melbourne."
It was a mixed day for the Australian contingent in action at Sydney Olympic Park with the highpoint coming early in the day courtesy of Ajla Tomljanovic.
The World No. 45 advanced to the second round after defeating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 22 minutes.
Tomljanovic took control of the match from the outset, applying constant pressure on return for three breaks of her Slovakian opponent’s serve and a one-set-to-love lead.
That advantage looked shaky at best early in the second though after Schmiedlova jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead.
From there Tomljanovic found her range, storming back to take the set without dropping a single other game.
“I was ready for a tough battle, and I got it. Even though the score, you know, may seem easy, it definitely wasn’t," Tomljanovic said post-match.
World No. 9 Paula Badosa now awaits Tomljanovic after the Spaniard dispatched Jelena Ostapenko 7-6(1), 6-1 on Monday.
“I saw her progress last year and thought what she did, in the end, was incredible,” Tomljanovic said of her fifth-seeded opponent.
Badosa claimed two titles in 2021 in what was a breakout year that she capped off with an impressive run at the WTA Finals where she went down to eventual champion Garbine Murguruza.
Tomljanovic and Badosa have never previously met but the Australian’s best win of last season did arguably come against Muguruza on her way to the Indian Wells quarterfinals.
Strong form at the back end of last year and a promising start to 2022 has Tomljanovic feeling confident as she continues her assault on the Australian summer of tennis.
“I’m just glad that I’m putting myself in a position every week, you know, against the top players and giving myself chances to come out on top,” Tomljanovic said.
Tomljanovic’s confidence was also on full display after the match when she, along with the Sydney crowd, burst into song to celebrate her coach’s birthday.
Australian Open wildcard recipient Christopher O’Connell, as well as Alexei Popyrin were also in action on Tuesday but unlike Tomljanovic, the Australian duo were more off-key than on song.
27-year-old O’Connell went down in a tense three-set battle with Argentina’s Sebastian Baez 2-6, 6-1, 6-7(4) in two hours and 13 minutes.
The World No. 173 had done it the hard way in Sydney, coming through qualifying with wins over Italian duo Andreas Seppi and Stefano Travaglia.
O’Connell’s main draw run was ultimately short-lived though as Baez recovered from 0-3 down in the final set tiebreak to progress to the next round.
The Argentinian will now take on World No. 27 Lorenzo Sonego who survived a stern three-set test from Frenchmen Hugo Gaston on Monday.
Ken Rosewall Arena later played host to Alexei Popyrin’s 4-6, 4-6 defeat at the hands of Spain’s Pedro Martinez.
The all-court game of the Spaniard proved troublesome for Popyrin right out of the gate with Martinez securing a decisive break in the first game of the match.
Popyrin struggled to find consistency throughout the afternoon but after dropping the first set he was able to secure an early break.
That advantage was short-lived though with Martinez immediately breaking back for 1-1 before a Popyrin double fault at 3-3 handed the Spaniard another critical break that would set up his victory.
Martinez, who spent the past week acclimatising with the Spanish ATP Cup team, will now face World No. 25 Daniel Evans who has started the season in sensational form.