Emma Raducanu was humbled in her first match of 2021 after she was knocked out of the Sydney International.
Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina thrashed the British number one 6-0, 6-1 earlier this week.
The Brit’s loss is her fourth since she returned from the US Open with her first ever Grand Slam title.
Since Raducanu’s historic triumph, her form looks miles away from her show-stopping run at Flushing Meadows back in September.
Her dip has raised some questions and the star has come under scrutiny from both spectators and professionals.
England Rugby head coach Eddie Jones recently suggested Raducanu had become distracted by fame after a number of endorsement deals — including Dior and Tiffany & Co. — came her way.
Martina Navrátilová also questioned the teenager’s decision to part ways with former coach Andrew Richardson after returning from New York. The 18-time Grand Slam winner described it as an “unfathomable” choice to split from the mentor she won her first major tournament with.
With the Australian Open just days away, focus shifts onto Raducanu’s first match of the tournament, which will come against USA’s Sloane Stephens.
Mats Wilander, who recently admitted he was sceptical over the Brit’s appointment of new mentor Torben Beltz, believes Raducanu “needs a few more matches” before opponents can really see what she’s about.
“She doesn’t have the respect in the locker room yet though,” he told Tennis365. “You don’t win respect by winning one major and nothing else.
“Mentally it’s not that easy to suddenly create some kind of artificial confidence from winning a major.”
Raducanu made history at the US Open by becoming the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam. She played her way to the title without dropping a single set in the process.
The 19-year-old skyrocketed through the WTA rankings, establishing herself as the new British number one and earning her spot as the world number 18.
But having lost four of her six matches since Flushing Meadows, the pressure is on to deliver at the Australian Open.
Raducanu recently dropped a new advert with Nike, hitting back at claims that she is “distracted” from tennis.
The advert shows the British star practising on court while words of criticism flash around her. It ends with a shot of her completely focused, sending a subtle but strong message to those doubting her commitment to her game.
Raducanu will make her Australian Open debut on Monday, January 17th against world number 68 Stephens.