“Young British woman drinks too much” is the sort of story you might expect to find in another part of a newspaper, but for Anne Keothavong it was a painful sporting reality here yesterday.
The 25-year-old Briton went into the first day of the Australian Open with high hopes against Anna Chakvetadze only to scupper her own chances with her pre-match preparations.
“I felt bloated,” Keothavong said after her 6-1, 6-7, 6-1 defeat. “I just drank too much before the match. I was aware that it was pretty hot and I had a long day hanging around waiting to play. With the heat you just want to stay hydrated, but you can sometimes drink too much.
Keothavong, who felt so unwell that she had to call for a trainer midway through the second set, said she had drunk three bottles of an isotonic sports drink as well as water before the match. “Sometimes you feel maybe it's better to drink too much rather than too little, because the conditions were tough out there,” she said.
In the circumstances Keothavong did well to push the world No 17 as hard as she did. In a match littered with mistakes - both players made 53 unforced errors -the world No 53 hung on in the second set and took the tie-break after winning five points in succession from 4-2 down.
At that point, however, the umpire, Gabriela Zaloga, contributed to Keothavong's downfall by mistakenly telling Chakvetadze to serve first in the deciding set. The 21-year-old Russian, an intelligent player and a sweet striker of the ball, took advantage and promptly ran away with the match.