Emma Raducanu suffered her first loss of 2022 to Elena Rybakina in the Sydney Classic less than a week before the start of the Australian Open.
The 19-year-old is set to take part in her first Grand Slam since her historic US Open win and had hoped to prepare for the competition by winning the Sydney International.
However, Rybakina – who is currently ranked 13th in the world, five places higher than Raducanu – beat the GB star 6-0, 6-1 in just 55 minutes of action.
Raducanu’s defeat came in the opening-round of the Sydney International. She was originally meant to face Iga Swiatek – world No 9 and 2020 French Open champion.
However, Swiatek withdrew from the competition with a rib injury and was replaced in her seeded position by world No 13 Rybakina.
The 19-year-old withdrew from the competition as she felt it was ‘too soon’ to compete again after previously testing positive for coronavirus ahead of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi in December.
Nevertheless, Raducanu returned to the court for the first time this season to face Rybakina.
The British player was over-powered by her opponent, fresh off a run to the final of the Adelaide International last week, and lost the first nine games of the match.
Raducanu flashed a smile after avoiding the indignity of a shut-out in the 10th game but she continued to be let down by a second-serve percentage.
The 19-year-old won just 50 per cent of her first serves and 13 per cent of her second during the opener.
Whereas her opponent, Rybakina, won 82 per cent of her first serves and 57 per cent of her second.
Raducanu saved the first two match points against her with arguably her two best shots of the match, before succumbing to the inevitable as Rybakina eased into the last 16.
The Sydney International marked Raducanu’s eighth professional tournament and the defeat came during her first match under her new coach Torben Beltz.