Emma Raducanu lost her first match of 2022, falling to Elena Rybakina in the opening round of the Sydney Tennis Classic.
The player from Kazakhstan was dominant throughout the match, triumphing 6-0, 6-1 in just over 55 minutes.
Rybakina’s powerful serve was too much for Raducanu, who has endured a turbulent start to the year.
The 19-year-old was forced to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi in December after testing positive for COVID-19.
She then pulled out of the Melbourne Summer Set last week, revealing it was “too soon” to compete after her period of isolation.
Raducanu was originally set to play Iga Świątek in the opening round of the Sydney Tennis Classic, a WTA 500 event, but the Polish star withdrew with a rib injury.
Instead, she came up against Rybakina, who has been in impressive form so far this year.
The 22-year-old is currently 14th in the world, five places higher than Raducanu.
She won her maiden WTA Tour title at the Bucharest Open in 2019, before triumphing at the Hobart International in 2020.
Ryabinka is yet to win a Grand Slam, but progressed to the quarter-finals of the French Open last year, losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia over three sets.
A brilliant start to this season saw Ryabinka reach the final of the Adelaide International.
She missed out on the title after losing 6-3 6-2 to world number one Ashleigh Barty, but otherwise defeated Storm Sanders, Marie Bouzková, Shelby Rogers, Misaki Doi during the tournament.
Both Raducanu and Ryabinka will now be focused on preparing for the upcoming Australian Open, which gets underway on January 17th.
The field is stacked with talent, including world Barty, defending champion Naomi Osaka, and world number two Aryna Sabalenka.
Osaka is the only one of last year’s semi-finalists to enter the 2022 draw – Serena Williams, Jennifer Brady and Karolína Muchová have all withdrawn with injury.
Ryabinka’s performances as of late suggest she could be considered something of a dark horse for the Grand Slam title.