Tennis: Unwell Serena loses to Russia's Jidkova
Thursday, October 28, 2004 (Linz):
The USA's Serena Williams suffered a shock exit in the second round of the Generali Ladies Open in Linz, Austria on Wednesday at the hands of Russian qualifier Alina Jidkova.
Williams appeared unwell throughout the match as Jidkova won 7-6 (5), 6-3.
At times the former world number one seemed barely able to lift her racket and, despite calling the trainer on to treat her in the second set, she still went down to a comprehensive defeat.
Serena Williams pulled out of events in Filderstadt and Zurich in recent weeks due to a knee injury.
But on Wednesday she was able to take up her place at the Generali Ladies Open in the Swiss town of Linz, for a second round match against Russian qualifier Alina Jidkova having received a bye in round one.
It turned out to be a miserable day for the former world number one, however, as despite being untroubled by her knee, she appeared to be unwell for much of the match, and in particular the second set.
The pair exchanged breaks in the first set, with Williams at that point displaying a fair amount of her trademark aggression - although there were more unforced errors than we have become accustomed to, and she was continually touching and rubbing her neck after points.
A tie-break ensued, which Jidkova edged 7-5 - the unseeded Russian displaying fine defensive play to grind down her opponent.
Jidkova, a 2004 semi-finalist at Vancouver, broke Williams again in the first game of the following set and was leading 3-1 when the American requested a treatment break.
Williams was tended to by the court doctor and given painkillers after complaining of a headache.
She claimed later that the medication helped ease the headache, but also slowed her reaction time and made her tired - and at times she seemed almost incapable of lifting her racket, let alone running for the ball.
Jidkova duly wrapped up victory in one and a half hours, 7-6 6-2 - undoubtedly the greatest win so far in the career of the 27-year-old, who is ranked 11th in her home country.
Williams, meanwhile, is struggling to book her spot at the prestigious season-ending WTA Tour Championships in Los Angeles on November 8th. (AP)