Tamira Paszek’s defence of the Eastbourne crown she spectacularly won in such style last summer petered out with a retirement midway through the second set to former world #1 Caroline Wozniacki.
The Dubai-based Austrian ace, who calls the sleepy seaside resort her second home as she stays with her Godparents during the popular Wimbledon warm-up event, was out-of-sorts from the start.
She has struggled this season, with just one victory on the WTA circuit all year going into the 2013 French Open, and her performance at Devonshire Park was never going to trouble the great Dane – injury or not.
After four breaks of serve, lacklustre Paszek simply didn’t look a shadow of the outstanding grass court player that she has been in the past – including a quarter-final berth at Wimbledon aged 16 and a 1st Round success over Wozniacki at SW19 last year.
Wozniacki, watched in the stands by her boyfriend – professional golfer Rory McIlroy – was locked at 2-2 in a coy second set but was gifted a 2nd Round place when Paszek retired with a recurrence of her left thigh injury.
Paszek surprisingly broke to lead 2-1 in the second set before receiving treatment, but lost her next service game and retired.
And it was a real relief for Wozniacki, whose career has nosedived since she started her romance with McIlroy, following a woeful set of results on clay.
There is little in Wozniacki’s recent form to suggest that she will turn her fortunes around, although she has previously won at Eastbourne and with a game suited to grass could be a dark horse to race to the semi-finals – and maybe beyond.