MELBOURNE:Former champion Amelie Mauresmo was knocked out of the Australian Open on Friday night when hometown favourite Australian Casey Dellacqua came from behind to beat her 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
The Frenchwoman one of the highest-profile casualties so far at this year's tournament, going down to Dellacqua on the same court where she won the title in 2006.
Mauresmo's nerves again proved her undoing against an opponent ranked 78 in the world who was bundled out in the first round in all five of her previous campaigns at Melbourne Park.
The two-time Grand Slam champion won the first set but could not pull clear of Dellacqua, committing 43 unforced errors and handing the Australian match point with a double fault, her 10th of the match.
Dellacqua was buoyed in her battle against the former world number one by a partisan crowd liberally sprinkled with family members, including her grandmother, who broke down in tears at the win.
"I'm shaking so much, I'm so excited," Dellacqua said after eliminating her 28-year-old opponent.
Dellacqua, 22, did not even have a sponsor before the tournament began but has been inundated with offers after becoming the last Australian women in the draw with three wins.
"To be number one in Australia is amazing and I hope I can go even further," she said.
Dellacqua will meet Serbian third seed Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round and said she had nothing to lose trying to extend her dream run.
"You know what, I'm just going to go out to have fun and enjoy the crowd," she said.
Mauresmo suffered a stomach muscle strain in the lead up to the tournament but admitted after a close second round win that the nerves that have plagued her career and led to her being labelled a choker remained a problem.