Marina Erakovic's hopes of a 2017 career resurgence have taken a hit after the Kiwi No 1 was bundled out of the ASB Classic in straight sets yesterday.
Erakovic was outclassed by Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko - the tournament's seventh seed - 6-1, 6-2 in her opening round. Erakovic never really fired a shot as she was beaten in 69 minutes.
Erakovic's only resistance came early in the second set, when she broke Ostapenko in the opening game to take a 2-0 lead. But her resolve wilted from there, with the Latvian rattling off the next six straight games to secure her place in the second round.
Seeking to break back into the top 50 in the WTA rankings this season after enduring what was, in her own words, "a pretty average" 2016, yesterday's performance was an ominous start to the year for Erakovic. But the Croatian-born Kiwi was in an upbeat mood after yesterday's loss.
"It was one of those days," she said.
"It sucks that it has happened here, because obviously I want to do well at home, but you can never control it."
Erakovic believed if she had been able to take advantage of her opportunities in the first few matches and get some early momentum, the outcome could have been different. She said once Ostapenko, who peaked at 34 in the world last year, found her rhythm she was difficult to unsettle.
"The first few games were very close, they could have gone either way. There were a couple of deuce-advantage games, but I wasn't able to get the start I wanted," she said.
"I struggled a bit to find my timing, to connect and to move. In a few days I will watch the tape and see what I can do to improve."
Erakovic's tournament is not yet over. She is set to take the court again today in the doubles, pairing up with Britain's Laura Robson.
If Erakovic's Auckland tournament ends early, she is planning to head to Hobart later this week to play in the qualifiers as she seeks more court time ahead of the Australian Open.