Top British hope Elena Baltacha fought a gallant battle to take a set from fragile 11th seed Jelena Dokic but eventually went down 6-3 1-6 6-4 in an exciting 101-minute clash that had home fans on the edge of their seats and hopeful of an upset.
Baltacha, the Ukraine-born world number 149 who has been severely restricted this year by a liver complaint for which she will undergo tests next week, gave Dokic a tough grilling on a packed Court 13.
Having apparently frozen to lose five games in a row and let slip the first set having forced an early break, she looked like sweeping Dokic off court in the second.
Her thumping forehands and sharp returns clearly fazed the world number 12 who has suffered an erratic campaign this year, changing her German coach having spurned controversial father Damir’s influence 12 months earlier.
It was Baltacha’s turn to reel off five successive games from another break up at 2-1 to romp through the second and level matters but Dokic, who crashed to Japanese qualifier Saori Obata at Eastbourne last week and was also knocked out early in the French championships by Slovenian Tina Pisnik, finally found her touch and confidence.
The decider was a battle of attrition with both players holding their serves with impressive deliveries but Dokic redoubled her efforts in the 10th game after three of the previous service games had been won to love.
Despite nine double faults, Dokic moved to three break points after holding another serve for 5-4 and needed only one of them.