MELBOURNE, Australia -- Before the start of this week's Australian Open, Pam Shriver had outlined her hopes for the coming year.
Her four-point plan was topped by qualifying as one of the world's top 16 for the season-ending Virginia Slims Championships in November.
Shriver, ranked 25th in the world, felt good about reaching that goal. She also believed that the others on the list, including winning another singles title, were all modest, attainable ambitions at age 30.
Yesterday, Shriver tried to stay reasonable in assessing her Australian Open opening-round failure as only a minor setback to her aspirations.
"I don't consider this a blow to my year, yet," Shriver said of her 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 loss to Debbie Graham. "It is not a bad loss. Debbie Graham is a good player."
Shriver, though, accepted the fact that if she is to achieve the singles success set out in her mind, these type of matches have to be won.
"These are the kind of wins I need to do, to beat Debbie Graham and the Debbie Grahams of the world if I want to do that," said Shriver of the 55th-ranked Californian.
Shriver had expected a tough struggle against Graham, despite the two-year pro's limited success.
"She is the sort of like [Jennifer] Capriati, hits the ball on a rope and serves big. And of all the style out there, that is the one I'm the most uncomfortable with," Shriver said,
Shriver, who had reached the third round or better the past six years here, had looked to gain the upper hand in the outside court match with a service break for a 2-1 lead in the last set.
But Shriver's most reliable and potent weapon, her serve, then abandoned her.
Serving at 3-4, Shriver gave away her service game after leading 40-15. The final blow, appropriately, came on a double fault.
"It was a disastrous ending," said Shriver. "I haven't cried. I'm just mad."