Estonia's top tennis player Anett Kontaveit (WTA No. 17) began the new season with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-7 (7-9) defeat to China's Zheng Qinwen (WTA No. 28) in the Adelaide International 1 tournament in Australia.
Kontaveit, who had been ill before Christmas, lost the first set 1-6 before falling behind in set two. The Estonian then rallied, twice breaking Zheng's serve to win three consecutive games and take the second set 6-4.
With neither player able to break serve in the final set, it came down to a tie break to decide the match.
After recovering from 5-6 down and Zheng's first match point, Kontaveit fought back to earn a match point herself. However, ultimately it was Zheng who prevailed, taking the tiebreak 9-7 to book her place in the round of 16.
After the match, Kontaveit told Delfi, that it was a very narrow defeat, to a strong, young opponent.
"It was difficult for me to get my game going at the beginning, which is maybe because I haven't been able to train long enough here," said Kontaveit.
"At the start, I was trying to find my game, but I'm happy with the way I fought until the end and got myself back into the match in the second set. The third set was really tight. It came down to some volleys or a line shot - the third set can be like that sometimes," she said.
The Estonian also shed some light on the health problems she had been suffering from at the end of last year, which forced her to withdraw from the World Tennis League event in Dubai at the last minute. "I was pretty sick. I missed about a week or ten days of the necessary preparation. Now I have to take this time to get my fitness back up and be ready for more matches," she said.
"Now I can train and hopefully get in better shape over the next week," she added.
Kontaveit will now focus on the WTA 500 Adelaide International 2, which starts on January 9. After that, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, the Australian Open, gets underway on January 16 in Melbourne.
Editor: Michael Cole