IF JARMILA GAJDOSOVA was considered lucky to avoid a second-round meeting with injured world No. 2 Maria Sharapova at the Brisbane International, and instead play replacement Lesia Tsurenko, the lucky loser from qualifying, it was after a 6-1 first set that the good fortune ended.
Gajdosova soon departed amid a flurry of errors, the last of four Australian women to leave the main draw.
Gajdosova, whose ranking has slumped to 183rd after a miserable season, moves on with new coach Antonio van Grichen to Hobart, where she will receive a follow-up wildcard, and is then expected to receive a third for the Australian Open, starting on January 14. Her opening defeat of Italian Roberta Vinci was promising; the 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 loss to Tsurenko more of a throwback to her erratic old ways.
''It's disappointing I guess. First I was looking forward to playing Maria, so that was a disappointment to start with that I didn't get to play her,'' said Gajdosova. ''Then, yeah, the rule is funny. Lucky loser gets to go straightaway to the second round, so it's kind of unfair, I reckon.''
Van Grichen, she said, was stressing the need to simply make her opponent play, and Gajdosova said she felt the match had been on her racquet, to win or lose. ''He wants me to be consistent obviously. Everybody knows I can hit the ball. It's not a problem,'' she said. ''He's trying to make me stay in the points longer, which I was trying to do. Unfortunately I only did it half of the times, and the other half I gave away free points, which doesn't matter who you play, it's going to cost you matches eventually.''
German fourth seed Angelique Kerber survived a scare from talented Puerto Rican qualifier Monica Puig, who led 4-1 in the third set and 4-0 in the deciding tiebreak before Kerber prevailed 3-6 6-4 7-6 (9-7).
''I didn't know her before, but I'm sure she's a future player because she plays and hits the ball so deep and so hard, moving very well,'' Kerber said. ''For sure it was a surprise how she played … but, yeah, I'm sure that she'll coming very soon top 50.''
While sixth seed Florian Lleyton was eliminated by Marcos Baghdatis, a finally healthy Lleyton Hewitt returns after a layday that followed his three-set win over Igor Kunitsyn for a second-round clash with 43rd-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan. Last January, the story was far different.
''The best thing for me is you just have a clear mind. You sort of dreaded going on the practice court and how much pain you were going to be in on the match court,'' he said, six months after major toe surgery. ''To have that in the back of your mind was just tough. You couldn't go out there with a clear mind to enjoy playing tennis and compete knowing you were going to in pain every time you stepped out there to run for any kind of ball.
''That's the best thing about it at the moment. I can just get ready for practice tomorrow and enjoy warming up without having injections and the rest of it.''
The story Gajdosova's luck runs out as she returns to erratic ways first appeared on The Age.