Article - Amanda Grahame foiled by Stubborn Italian!
There could scarcely have been a more stirring introduction to the Canberra Women's Classic at Lyneham yesterday than the appearance of the local hero on centre court for the opening match.
It was a shrewdly orchestrated piece of scheduling on the part of tournament officials.
Unfortunately for Amanda Grahame, her first-round performance against Tathiana Garbin was rather less well orchestrated.
The Canberra left-hander was duly dispatched, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, from the tournament she had taken by the scruff of the neck last year, blazing a trail from qualifying through to the semi-finals.
Grahame, a first-round loser in qualifying at the Uncle Tobys Hardcourt Championships on the Gold Coast a fortnight ago, surrendered the first set yesterday before summoning from within an emphatic response in the second.
Roared on by a partisan crowd of more than 500, Grahame broke the Italian at 2-2 in the third and surged to a 4-2 lead. It seemed as though Grahame was on the verge of delivering an encore to her display of 12 months ago.
Garbin pulled back to 4-4 and suddenly had the momentum. Grahame, who failed to make her first serve count in the final set, produced too many double-faults and wavered as her opponent's challenge gathered steam. The moment was lost.
"I would love to have won a few matches here but Tathiana was a tough first-round draw. But then I did have my chance," a rueful Grahame said afterwards. "When I got 4-2 up in the third set, she was able to come up with the good shots. I got a little bit tired and that was the difference in the end.
"Her forehand started to get going a lot more and she really took advantage of that. I couldn't come up with anything really."
In reaching last year's semi-final in the company of players ranked in the world's top 50, Grahame played above herself, grasping her opportunities and living on her wits. Yesterday there was an inescapable sense that she had rather let herself down, notwithstanding Garbin's ranking of 71. Grahame will compete next week at the Australian Open.