Sydney, Australia, 7 January 2013 | AAP

Samantha Stosur’s miserable run in Australia has continued with a deflating first-round exit from the Apia International Sydney.

Stosur’s 6-3 6-7(7) 6-4 defeat at the hands of China’s world No.42 Zheng Jie was her fifth consecutive loss in Australia, a demoralising run that stretches back to last summer.

The world No.9 will head to Melbourne for the Australian Open starting next Monday alarmingly underdone after playing just two matches since undergoing minor ankle surgery six weeks ago.

With little history of performing well at a major without a strong build-up, Stosur’s Australian Open prospects look grim.

The 2011 US Open champion made a bright enough start against Zheng, establishing two break points in the very first game.

But after failing to convert either, Zheng broke Stosur in the second and sixth games of the opening sets as Australia’s big hope struggled to find her rhythm.

Stosur clawed her way back from 5-1 to 5-3 before netting one of several mistimed backhands to hand the former Australian Open and Wimbledon semifinalist the opening set.

The sixth seed mounted a revival in the second set, gamely saving a match point in the tiebreaker before blowing a 3-1 advantage in the decider.

Her elimination leaves Stosur with just two wins in seven years in Sydney since falling to fellow Australian Alicia Molik in the 2005 title match.

The latest loss also ended Australian interests in the women’s singles after Casey Dellacqua made a swift first-round exit earlier on Monday.