Serena Williams has blamed the "abhorrent" conditions in Auckland for her shock second round exit from the ASB Classic.
Williams, the tournament's top seed, was last night dispatched 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-4 by unheralded American Madison Brengle, in a dire match in which the unforced error count heavily outweighed the winning shots.
Williams' unceremonious exit capped off a disastrous day for tournament organisers, with her demise following the news her older sister Venus had withdrawn from the tournament due to injury. Venus was troubled by an injury right arm in her win over plucky Kiwi teen Jade Lewis earlier in the day, forcing her out of her second round match against impressive Japanese youngster Naomi Osaka in the evening.
"At least I can get out of these conditions so I can get somewhere better, and warmer weather too"
While Venus left reluctantly, her sister gave the impression she couldn't wait to get out of the place.
The 22-time grand slam winner struggled with the blustery conditions, as the Stanley Street venue became a wind tunnel in the early evening breeze. Having played just eight events last year - all of which were in big, sheltered arenas rather than the piece-meal seating arrangement at the ASB Tennis Centre - Williams admitted she was not used to having to battle the elements.
Unable to settle into any sort of rhythm, Williams hit 88 unforced errors in the match - a statistic she described as "unprofessional".
"At least I can get out of these conditions so I can get somewhere better, and warmer weather too," she said in a brief post-match press conference.
"I would say it's my least favourite conditions I've ever played in. Again my opponent played in the exact same conditions - she was able to adjust better than me. She obviously did a much better job than I did. I really abhorred these conditions."
"I can take solace in the fact that the conditions won't be like this in Melbourne [for the Australian Open]. This is almost not a great opportunity to assess your game to be honest."
LISTEN: Serena Williams media conference
Listening on in the press conference room while Williams complained about the conditions, you got the impression for tournament director Karl Budge the planned retractable roof at the Stanley Street stadium cannot come soon enough.
The south-westerly wind was brutal. The ball boys struggled to hold up umbrellas over the players during the breaks in play - with one even blowing inside out. The wind also displaced some of the courtside advertising hoardings, while a programme from one of the courtside boxes blew onto the court while a point was in play, further adding to Williams' frustration.
It was Brengle that maintained her focus amid the myriad of distractions. The conditions perhaps favoured the defensive mindset she brought to the match, with Brengle chasing down everything Williams sent her way and waited for her opponent to make a mistake.
The WTA Tour journeywoman heavily favoured the forehand slice, blunting her opponent's key strike weapons by taking the pace off the ball.
"I'm trying to think of a word for [my performance] that's not obscene, but I can't," joked Williams.
"You can't expect to win hitting that many errors ... I never got in my rhythm, I didn't hit any returns in the vicinity of the court I think. I've never returned like that in my life. So it was a little frustrating, especially since I worked so hard in the off-season."
In what was the story of the match, Williams fittingly sealed her own fate with a double fault.
At that point Brengle raised her hands to her mouth, shaking her head in disbelief that she had overcome one of the game's greatest players.
"It's something you dream about. Even when you are practicing you are thinking about if I ever get to play Serena..and then to have this result and have it in your pocket it gives you a little extra confidence. It's really cool," said Brengle.