James Duckworth knew it was a bad omen when he snapped a string at 3-2, 30-all in his third set against world No.20 Dominic Thiem at the Brisbane International.
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Is Sharapova ready for 2016?
Prior to her withdrawal from the Brisbane International with a forearm injury, Maria Sharapova believed her strong end to 2015 was the perfect grounding for the new season.
Incredibly, it hadn't happened to him in five years of tennis and the timing was hardly ideal, given the delicate stage of the contest.
He switched blades but couldn't regain the momentum, losing 3-6 6-4 6-3 to join the rush of Australian men making early exits in Queensland.
With rain pouring all day in Brisbane and the outside courts largely a wash-out, Duckworth warmed up in the main arena and started in promising fashion, taking the opening set to continue his good run of form through qualifying.
The 23-year-old Sydneysider had already secured a wildcard into the Australian Open and was handed one in Brisbane as well, where he will continue to play doubles before trying his hand at the qualifiers in Sydney next week.
Like most players at this time of year, the best thing short of winning the title is time on the court. That was the major disappointment for Duckworth, who forged his way as high as 82 in the world last year but starts 2016 ranked 120.
"It was a tough loss. I was right there with him. Couple of points here and there. Got a bit unlucky not to convert a couple of break points and then in the third set to break a string at 30-all, which I haven't broken a string in a match in five years," Duckworth said.
"He served well. He's a good player. He hits the ball big off both sides. He was 20 in the world for a reason.
"[My] first serve percentage wasn't high enough. But there is still few tournaments for the summer and the Aussie Open is the one I'm going to be really trying to peak for."
Duckworth joins Sam Groth and wildcards Ben Mitchell and J.P. Smith as first-round Australian casualties in the men's draw. Bernard Tomic was due to play his first match on Tuesday night.
Elsewhere in wet and miserable Brisbane, US Open finalist Roberta Vinci was the first player into the women's quarter-finals after cruising past Dominika Cibulkova 6-1 6-1 on Pat Rafter Arena.
She will meet the winner of the match between Victoria Azarenka and Belgian lucky loser Ysaline Bonaventure, in to replace injured second seed Simona Halep.
With Halep and Maria Sharapova both injury withdrawals, world No.3 Garbine Muguruza has rocketed into favouritism to begin her 2016 campaign with a WTA title.
Muguruza and Agnieszka Radwanska (Shenzhen) are now the only WTA top-five players in competition this week, with the latter able to push Sharapova out of a potential Australian Open fourth seeding if she plays well in China.
In the afternoon men's match on the main court, crafty veteran and former champion Radek Stepanek didn't work up much of a sweat as he sailed past Serbia's Dusan Lajovic 6-0 6-3 and into the second round.
With the weather forcing delays, Brisbane 17-year-old Oliver Anderson had to wait all day for his ATP tournament debut but fell to Croatian veteran Ivan Dogig 6-3, 6-2.