Australia’s last female hope in qualifying for the women’s singles tournament at Australian Open 2014 has fallen by the wayside, with Anastasia Rodionova losing in straight sets to Germany’s Carina Witthoeft at Melbourne Park on Friday.
Rodionova showed flashes of her solid groundstrokes in the second-round qualifying encounter on Show Court 3, but couldn’t capitalise on a break in the second set against Witthoeft, the German winning 6-3 7-5 in one hour and 26 minutes.
Rodionova, who lost at the same stage of qualifying for last year’s Open against Russian Valeria Savinykh, has struggled to recapture the form that saw her compete in 12 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments to the 2012 US Open.
The Russian-born Australian was vocal in showing her frustration on court, while the 18-year-old Witthoeft edged closer to her maiden Grand Slam appearance. The German will now play the winner of Friday’s meeting between Ana Vrljic of Croatia and Alize Lim of France for a place in the main draw.
Elsewhere on Friday, Japan’s Risa Ozaki defeated An-Sophie Mestach from Belgium in three sets, 6-2 3-6 6-4, on Court 7.
Ozaki broke a seemingly unsettled Mestach early in the match, capitalising on the Belgian’s unforced errors. Mestach fought back in the second set to send the match to a decider, but Ozaki’s swift movement and consistent baseline returns proved too much for the 24th qualifying seed, taking her down in a match that lasted two hours and 13 minutes.
Mestach wasn’t the only seed to be sent packing on Friday, with Russian ninth seed Kristyna Pliskova no match for opponent Victoria Duval, the American winning 6-2 6-2 in just 50 minutes.
Pliskova’s 31 unforced errors to 11 was her undoing against Duval, who beat Australia’s Sam Stosur in the opening round of last year’s US Open and is now on the cusp of a maiden main draw appearance in Melbourne.
Earlier in the day, Briton Heather Watson was granted an easy passage to the next round when French opponent Stephanie Foretz Gacon retired hurt with a shoulder injury when Watson led 6-0 2-0.
Watson raced away early, denying her opponent a single game in claiming the first set in just 21 minutes.
In obvious pain, Foretz Gacon bravely tried to withstand the discomfort, but eventually decided to retire hurt after conceding the opening two games of the second set.
China’s Ying-Ying Duan had little trouble in a 6-2 6-1 demolition of Austrian Tamira Paszek, who had defeated Australia’s Sara Tomic in the previous round.
Ying-Ying will face 10th seed Vera Dushevina for a place in the main draw, with the Russian comfortably accounting for Japan’s Erika Sema 6-1 6-2 on Friday.