Australian Open: British quintet lose on opening day in Melbourne

Australian Open

Venue:
Melbourne Park
Date:
16-29 January
Time:
0000 GMT
Coverage:
Watch live on Eurosport; singles finals and one men's semi-final on BBC Two/Red Button/HD channel/website; listen on BBC Radio 5 live; text commentaries and reports on the BBC Sport website
Elena Baltacha
Baltacha reached round two or better at Melbourne Park in 2009, 2010 and 2011

Britain endured a disappointing opening day at the Australian Open as five of its six representatives were beaten.

Elena Baltacha lost 6-2 6-4 to Stephanie Foretz Gacon, Heather Watson 6-1 6-0 to Victoria Azarenka and Laura Robson 6-2 6-0 to Jelena Jankovic.

James Ward lost 6-4 6-3 6-4 to Blaz Kavcic, and Anne Keothavong, suffering from illness, retired against Mona Barthel after losing the first set 6.

Andy Murray begins his campaign against American Ryan Harrison on Tuesday.

Britain had six singles players in the main draw of a foreign Grand Slam for the first time since 1992.

But that quickly became five when Watson, sporting a heavily strapped left ankle, was dispatched by Azarenka in the first match at a sweltering Rod Laver Arena.

Watson admitted she had not done herself justice.

She said: "I have gained experience from this and I am not too upset because I tried my best, even though I wasn't there today.

"Vika played great and I can't remember her missing a ball. That's why she is number three in the world.

"But I have to put up a bigger fight than that to get close."

Watson lost their only previous match 6-1 6-1 and it was a similar story as Azarenka set up a second-round meeting with Australian wildcard Casey Dellacqua.

World number three Azarenka looked nervous in the early stages - she saved a break point in her opening service game - but soon asserted her authority.

Watson appeared to be struggling with the heat and could not hide her frustration after floating a backhand long to concede the 36-minute first set.

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Australian Open: Baltacha frustrated at first round loss

The 105th-ranked right-hander began the second set brightly but Azarenka was finding the corners at will. She sealed the match when Watson netted a backhand, her 27th unforced error.

Baltacha departed shortly before Robson, losing to the lower-ranked Frenchwoman Foretz Gacon 6-2 6-4.

The Scot, Britain's leading female player, paid for an awful start when she fell 4-0 behind and was unable to haul it back.

She at least found her range in the second set, trading blows with the 30-year-old, who at 107 in the world is 53 places lower than Baltacha, but lost her nerve when serving at 4-4.

Foretz Gacon squandered six break points but broke through on the seventh and duly served it out to advance in one hour and 30 minutes.

Baltacha admitted she did not feel comfortable on court, saying: "All the preparation went really well but, for whatever reason, I just could not get into the match at all.

"The second set was better but I didn't feel comfortable. It is very frustrating, just one of those days."

Robson, 17, was outclassed by 13th-seeded Serbian Jankovic, who won in just one hour and nine minutes.

The left-hander looked ill at ease from the off on Margaret Court Arena after dropping her opening service game.

She had three chances to hit back at 3-2 behind but once they went Robson sprayed the ball around seemingly with little gameplan.

Robson stressed that the British performances on day one was not a "disaster".

"She played better than me and I made way too many mistakes," said Robson after the match.

"I let her dictate the points and that's not the way I play. Sometimes you have bad days. I am disappointed but there are a lot of things I can learn from this."

Ward, meanwhile, was seen off in two hours and 17 minutes as Kavcic secured a meeting with Juan Martin del Potro in round two.

"It was difficult out there due to the wind but it was the same for both of us and there are no excuses. It was a tough day," said Ward.

"I am not happy about losing any match but it was a good chance. It has gone and I just have to move on and look forward to the next tournament."

The 24-year-old Londoner, ranked 161st, had come through qualifying to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam by right for the first time.

But he provided little resistance for world number 103 Kavcic, finishing with a first-serve percentage of 47%.

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