British No2 Heather Watson blamed injury after her miserable run at the Australian Open continued with a dramatic first-round elimination in Melbourne on Monday.
On a bad opening day for Britons at the grand slam, Watson served for the match against Hungary’s Timea Babos before succumbing to a 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 7-5 defeat against the world No60.
Watson has only won two matches in five years at the Australian Open and afterwards the 23-year-old attributed her collapse to a muscular problem suffered in the build-up to the event.
“I came into the tournament with an abdominal strain,” she said. “As soon as it got important in that 5-4 game in the second set I felt myself get tense, and when I needed my serve today I couldn’t reach up and hit it.”
Seeds tumbled in the women’s draw, with Caroline Wozniacki, Sara Errani among those crashing out, but defending champion Serena Williams battled past Camila Giorgi in her first tour match for four months.
British rising star Kyle Edmund was also hampered by injury as he slipped from two sets to one up to a 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 loss against Bosnian world No81 Damir Dzumhur.
Edmund, part of last year’s victorious Davis Cup line-up, needed on-court treatment for severe cramp in his thigh that left him struggling to serve in the final set.
“You can’t play full out because you lose confidence in your movement and when you do move you start to cramp up again,” he said. “To beat these guys you have to be 100 per cent. It’s frustrating.”
Fellow Britons Andy Murray, Dan Evans, Aljaz Bedene and Johanna Konta are all scheduled to play their first-round matches on Tuesday.