Fallen champion Samantha Stosur made no attempt to disguise her devastation after penning one of the most inglorious chapters of her celebrated career on Tuesday.
"I'm probably very close to crying, having a really awful night," Stosur said after becoming the first women's US Open winner in 45 years of professional tennis to subsequently fall in the first round of the Australian Open.
"But I think you feel what you feel, whether it's good or bad. It's hard to suppress those emotions when it means so much to you."
Stosur's Open campaign lasted just 91 minutes before the 27-year-old bowed out with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 defeat to Romania's world number 59 Sorana Cirstea, a player she had crushed in straight sets in both their previous meetings.
The world number five's unscheduled exit continues her miserable record at her home grand slam.
In 10 visits, Stosur has managed just 14 wins and she has only twice progressed beyond the third round.
But having reigned in New York last September just two months after succumbing in the first round at Wimbledon, Stosur refuses to believe she will not one day achieve her dream of winning the Australian Open.
"The last few years I got beaten by players who definitely played better than me on the day," Stosur said.
"Third, fourth rounds obviously aren't where you want to go, but certainly better than a first round. All you can do is come back next year and keep trying.
"Obviously, it's not hard to improve on a first-round loss.
"I've got the rest of the year obviously. Of course I want to do better here, but I can't think that, 'oh, because this month didn't go the way I wanted it to, the year is shot' either.
"It's not going to deter me from doing what I want to do. If anything, it will probably spur me on to try even harder and do even more."
But carrying the hopes of a nation, Stosur conceded she may have tried too hard to deliver.
"Of course I wanted to do very well here. You want it to come right now," she said.
"That's sport. Unfortunately you can't pick and choose when it's all going to happen for you."
After a second-round loss in Brisbane and first-round demise in Sydney, Stosur arrived in Melbourne down on confidence and openly admitting to struggling under the weight of expectation.
"It affects you physically," she said.
"That's probably the easiest sign for the outside people to see ... to see that you tighten up, your shoulders do get tight, you don't hit through the ball.
"When anyone's nervous, I think the first thing that goes is your footwork. You don't move your feet as well. Once that breaks down, it's easy for other things to start breaking down."
Stosur's 21-year-old conqueror said post-match that "probably the whole country hates me right now".
Stosur, though, paid tribute to Cirstea and said no Australian could feel more disappointed than her.
"There's nothing probably more than my expectation. I really, really wanted to do well here and over the summer," she said.
"I did everything I could to try and give myself a good opportunity. It obviously didn't happen."
ABC and wiresTags: sport, tennis, australian-open, melbourne-3000, vic, australia First posted January 17, 2012 15:55:42