Samantha Stosur insisted her split with coach Miles Maclagan on the eve of Wimbledon was not the cause of her latest All England Club nightmare.
Stosur became the first major casualty of the women’s tournament as the Australian 17th seed slumped to a 6-3, 6-4 first-round defeat against Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer yesterday.
The former US Open champion has now failed to get beyond the third round in 12 appearances at the grass-court Grand Slam.
Stosur, 30, served 13 aces and hit 25 winners, but still came up short against the world No. 54, continuing a miserable sequence of seven successive Grand Slam appearances without getting past the fourth round.
The dismal defeat came just days after Stosur announced she was parting ways with Maclagan, a Zambian-born Scot who previously coached reigning Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.
However Stosur, who lost 15 of her 34 matches working with Maclagan and has failed to reach a final since the Hobart International in January, made it clear the split was not to blame for her dispiriting loss.
“No. I had some really great practices,” Stosur said. “I felt really good going into today’s match. I didn’t think about it at all. It’s something that happened. I went out there today and unfortunately I didn’t win. I don’t feel like I played bad. In some ways it sucks because you’re done, you wait another four or five weeks till you get to play again.”
In the men’s singles, Taiwanese qualifier Jimmy Wang cruised into the second round after a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia.
Wang next faces 17th seed Mikhail Youzhny after the Russian defeated British hope James Ward 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.
In the women’s draw, Former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka had no such problems as she won her first match since January on the same court where she suffered a knee injury which ended her hopes last year.
Azarenka, the eighth seed, won 6-3, 7-5 against Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who was a semi-finalist back in 1999, on Court One.
That was the same arena where she hurt her right knee in a nasty fall in the first round 12 months ago, an injury which sparked her withdrawal from the second round.
It was a defeat which led to Azarenka angrily condemning the All England Club courts as dangerous.
This year, the former Australian Open champion has been plagued by a left-foot injury which kept her off tour from Indian Wells in March to Eastbourne last week, where she lost her opener to Camila Giorgi.
Azarenka next faces Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski.
Sloane Stephens’ streak of reaching the second week at six consecutive Grand Slam tournaments ended with a 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) first-round loss to world No. 109 Maria Kirilenko of Russia.
Stephens saved five match points serving at 5-6, sending it to a tiebreaker, but Kirilenko clinched the match after a wide forehand by Stephens.
Stephens, the 18th seed, had held the longest active run of fourth-round appearances at Grand Slams by a woman, dating to a semi-final showing at last year’s Australian Open. At Wimbledon last year, Stephens got to the quarter-finals, where she lost to eventual champion Marion Bartoli.
Japanese veteran Kimiko Date Krumm also lost in the first round, beaten 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 by Ekaterina Makarova of Russia.
The 43-year-old Date Krumm, who reached the semifinals at Wimbledon 18 years ago, was the oldest player entered in the tournament this year. She made her Wimbledon debut in 1989, a year after Makarova was born.