Amelie Mauresmo's preparations for next week's Australian Open were left in disarray after she was knocked out of the second round of the Sydney International yesterday.
The world number three lost 6-3 7-5 to rising Serb Ana Ivanovic in her first appearance of 2006, leaving her with the prospect of starting the first grand slam of the year without another match.
"I probably would have needed at least one more match before playing her," the powerfully-built Frenchwoman told reporters.
Mauresmo was just one of five seeded European players that made early exits from Sydney yesterday, under the blazing heat of the Australian summer sun.
Swiss third seed Patty Schnyder was the only other major casualty from the women's draw, beaten by Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova 3-6 6-3 6-4, while three seeded men were also sent packing.
Russia's Igor Andreev beat Richard Gasquet of France 6-2 6-4, Dmitry Tursonov of Russia defeated Spaniard Tommy Robredo 7-6 6-3 and Czech Radek Stepanek fell to Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan 6-3 6-4.
The remaining seeds went through safely with the Belgian pair of Kim Clijsters and Justin Henin-Hardenne posting impressive wins to reach the quarter-finals.
US Open champion Clijsters overpowered Chinese qualifier Na Li 6-3 6-1, while Henin-Hardenne made light work of her second round encounter with Russia's Vera Dushevina, cruising to a 6-2 6-2 victory.
A rusty Henin-Hardenne beat Martina Hingis in straight sets the previous day but raised her game yesterday as she extended her unbeaten run in Australia over three years.
"I'm happy with the way I played today," she said.
"The conditions were very difficult, the heat is tough, so I needed a match to get used to it."
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