Former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic has slumped to her second first-round exit in as many weeks after falling 6-4 6-2 to Karolina Pliskova on day one of the Sydney International.
In worrying signs for Ivanovic ahead of the Australian Open, the Serbian star struggled to keep pace with Pliskova.
Ivanovic was also bundled out by world No.122 Naomi Brady in her first match in Brisbane last week.
For the world No.11 Pliskova, she is now on course to meet top seed Simona Halep in the quarter finals, should the draw progress according to the seedings.
“I was thinking, it’s not really (an) easy draw for first round,” Pliskova said of her meeting with Ivanovic.
“I know she got the wildcard and obviously she’s a great player. She can beat anyone.
“I was really expecting a tough match. I’m just happy it went a little bit more my way and I think it was a solid win for me today.”
The 23-year-old Czech is now a strong chance of avenging her final loss last year after both defending champion Petra Kvitova and second seed Agnieszka Radwanska withdrew from the Sydney tournament on day one.
Kvitova succumbed to a stomach bug she picked up at the Shenzhen Open last week, while Radwanska, who won the title in China, is recovering from a left leg injury.
“I’m really disappointed to have to withdraw from the Apia International Sydney but unfortunately I am still not feeling well,” Kvitova said.
Radwanska said she needed the rest.
“I’m really sorry that I can’t play the Apia International Sydney this week. I am feeling very confident in my game at the moment and the results are there, but after five matches in the past week my leg needs some recovery time,” Radwanska said.
The women’s top four – Serena Williams (knee), Halep (Achilles), Garbine Muguruza (foot) and Maria Sharapova (forearm) – have all endured a troubled lead-up to the Open.
Australian No.1 Sam Stosur is also battling a wrist problem.
World No.10 Angelique Kerber is the only member of the top ten to not withdraw, lose first round, or retire through the first few weeks of the 2016 season.
Pliskova said players simply wanted to be in peak condition when the grand slam starts on Monday week.
Earlier on day one in Sydney, 2014 champion Tsvetana Pironkova upset Lesia Tsurenko 7-6 6-2 to progress to the second round, where she’ll be joined by dual Wimbledon champ Svetlana Kuznetsova, who lost just two games in a 6-2 6-0 romp over Australian wildcard Tammi Patterson.
Meanwhile, former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic rebounded from a first-round exit in Brisbane to score a 6-3 6-4 win over American Coco Vandeweghe.