Eight wasn’t the lucky number Australian Jarmila Gajdosova on Tuesday night. The local hope, coming in to her first-round match with a 0-7 record at the Australian Open, fell in another opening effort, this time at the hands of No.20 seed Yanina Wickmayer, 6-1 7-5.
There were plenty of chances for Gajdosova, ranked No.166, to make a play at Wickmayer, and the former world No.25 even had a set point at 4-5 in the second. But she was undone by errors, coming 41 of them in the match to just 16 from the Belgian.
Starting off, it was Wickmayer who looked more comfortable, the 2009 US Open semifinalist racing out to a 6-1 first set in just 26 minutes thanks to a bundle of errors from Gajdosova.
But ‘Jarka’ found her form in set two, blasting balls off her backhand wing to snatch a 4-1 lead in front of a boisterous crowd at Rod Laver Arena that clearly wanted the local luck to continue after Bernard Tomic had won the evening’s first match.
Wickmayer held and then broke back, however, serving at 3-4. Gajdosova wouldn’t let her tie things up, though, breaking back thanks in part to a sizzling crosscourt forehand.
At 5-3 Gajdosova tightened, the 25-year-old dumping a double fault into the net – she had six on the night – to give Wickmayer the break back once again. It was in the next game that Gajdosova would have a set point thanks to a blazing down-the-line backhand return winner.
But it wasn’t meant to be. The Australian chunked a poor drop shot into the net and then missed two return balls, giving Wickmayer the momentum and deflating the crowd. With slumped shoulders, Gajdosova put up little resistance to Wickmayer winning the last two games and the match, which lasted one hour and 19 minutes.
Gajdosova, who made a quarterfinal run at Hobart last week and beat world No.6 Sara Errani in Brisbane two weeks ago, also lost to Wickmayer in the first round of 2011.
Wickmayer was the cleaner player, if not the stronger one in this match. She hit 11 winners to Gajdosova’s 18, but converted six of seven break points, where Gajdosova was just three of 11.
Wickmayer will now face unheralded Jana Cepelova in round two, with a potential match-up against Maria Kirilenko in the third round. The 23-year-old is looking to match her Aussie best: she was a Round of 16 participant in 2010, when she lost to countrywoman Justine Henin.