LONDON Australian doom and gloom at Wimbledon was complete on Wednesday when Samantha Stosur became the highest seeded casualty at this year's championships, the women's number five losing 6-2 0-6 6-4 to Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus.
The U.S. Open champion lost six games in a row to surrender the first set before reeling off six on the spin to take the match into a decider but never looked comfortable and failed to claw back a 3-0 deficit despite saving two match points.
Of the four Australian men and five women to start in the main singles draws, Stosur was the only player to win a match - although her defeat was hardly a surprise give her poor record on grass.
"This year I hated grass a little bit less than the previous years," Stosur, who has suffered five first-round defeats at Wimbledon and four second-round losses, told reporters.
"It's just disappointing because you want to do well here. It's a great tournament. I still love playing here at Wimbledon, but obviously it hasn't been my very best tournament."
She saved two match points trailing 5-3, one of them with a sensational winner to end a fierce baseline rally, and looked poised to level at 5-5 as she led 40-15 on serve but crumbled, slicing a backhand into the bottom of the net to hand the 72nd-ranked Rus victory.
Her defeat raised the inevitable questions about why a country that has produced Wimbledon champions like Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Roy Emerson, Pat Cash, Lleyton Hewitt, Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong, could fail so dismally at a tournament that has provided such rich pickings.
The men suffered their worst Wimbledon showing since 1938.
"It's a pretty woeful performance by all of us, but it's not through lack of trying or not wanting to be here or anything like that," Stosur said.
"I think you have to look at something on a whole, for a longer period of time than just one event, to say that we're in this dire straits kind of mode right now.
"Of course it can be better. Myself and all the other players that I'm sure we can speak for wish we had a better tournament."
Stosur said she was looking forward to being back on the grass in the women's doubles with Casey Dellacqua and at this year's London Olympics at which Wimbledon is the tennis venue.
"We all take great pride in playing for our country and being part of that," she said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to turn it around for that event."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)