Stosur joins Aussie exodus in Eastbourne

Samantha Stosur’s grasscourt woes have continued with a straight-sets loss in her opening match at the Eastbourne International.

The Australian No.1 will head to Wimbledon – where she has a dire record in a dozen visits – without a win on the surface in more than a year after dropping serve six times in a 7-5 7-6 (7-0) loss to Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova.

Casey Dellacqua and Jarmila Gajdosova were also eliminated on Tuesday, leaving lucky loser Daria Gavrilova as Australia’s last remaining player in the singles draw.

A finalist last week in Nottingham, eighth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova took out Dellacqua 6-4 7-5 in the second round before second seed Caroline Wozniacki survived a day of carnage for the big guns to oust Gajdosova 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

French Open runner-up Lucie Safarova, the third seed, suffered a 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 loss to Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova, while fourth seed Ekaterina Makarova, fifth seed Carla Suarez Navarro and defending champion Madison Keys also crashed out.

British wildcard Johanna Konta eliminated Makarova, a two-time grand slam finalist in the past 12 months, 6-2 6-4 for the first first-10 win of her career, with American Sloane Stephens taking out Suarez Navarro 6-1 7-5.

Highly-rated Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic hammered the 12th-seeded Keys 6-2 6-2.

But there was relief for seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard, with last year’s Wimbledon runner-up winning just her second match in three months.

With seven first-round defeats since March, the Canadian golden girl admitted it had been tough going before downing American Alison Riske 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

“It’s been a learning experience,” Bouchard said.

“I have had to learn to be patient and to understand that there are ups and downs in lives and in tennis and to keep working and keep believing in what I do no matter what, and to know there is light of the end of the tunnel.

“That’s what I have been doing, putting my head down and working and knowing at some point it will turn around.”

In other matches, Polish ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska thrashed US qualifier Irina Falconi 6-0 6-2, German 10th seed Andrea Petkovic advanced to the last 16 with a 6-2 6-4 win over Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, and Spain’s 14th seed Garbine Muguruza defeated Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 5-7 6-3 6-0.

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