Australia suffered a twin blow in the Fed Cup World Group playoff with the Netherlands on Saturday as Sam Stosur succumbed to an Achilles injury before Jarmila Gajdosova lost the opening match of the tie.
An out-of-sorts Gajdosova was stunned in straight sets by the Netherlands’ Kiki Bertens, who opened the clay court tie in emphatic fashion, winning 6-1 6-3 in little more than an hour in ‘S-Hertogenbosch.
It was the worst possible start for the Australians, who were already reeling from the game-day withdrawal of world No.26 Stosur.
Casey Dellacqua will step in for an opening singles showdown with little-known Arantxa Rus, who has not played in the main draw of a WTA Tour event this year.
The clash becomes crucial for Alicia Molik’s team following Bertens’ upset victory.
After holding serve to open the match, Gajdosova folded meekly to be broken three consecutive times as she lost the next six games to concede the first set.
The writing appeared to be on the wall for the 27-year-old when she was broken early in second, with Bertens taking a 3-1 advantage to the delight of the home crowd.
Gajdosova broke straight back but was forced to work hard, having five break points saved before finally converting.
The break appeared to give her a boost, but crucially she was unable to take advantage of the break points which fell her way.
With her confidence wilting, Gajdosova surrendered another break, allowing Bertens to serve out the match.