By her own admission, Boulter never really got going in her first Grand Slam appearance since last year’s tournament after a lengthy period with a back injury and then chronic fatigue on the road to recovery.
Unlike in her warm-up matches in Melbourne, in which she won twice including upsetting American Coco Gauff, the 24-year-old struggled to find any sort of rhythm.
“I’m pretty disappointed with today,” she said. “I felt like I never really go going. I felt quite uncomfortable out on the court. I put a lot of pressure on myself when there was absolutely no need to. I really struggled to get some rhythm and get into the match and compete. I’m pretty upset about it.”
Despite the loss, Boulter admitted she was buoyed to make it back into a Grand Slam draw and said her primary focus was now staying healthy.
“I’ve worked so hard on my body so firstly I really hope that I’m going to stay fit,” she said.
Elsewhere in the women’s draw, Serena Williams’ ongoing quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title got off to the ideal start as she took just 56 minutes to beat Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-1.
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The 39-year-old, who wore a one-legged catsuit, which she said was a tribute to the former sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner, described her own performance as “vintage Serena”.
Meanwhile, sister Venus, also her hitting partner in the Australian quarantine bubble, also proved victorious in what was a record 88th Grand Slam singles appearance.
Williams Sr proved victorious 7-5, 6-2 over Kirsten Flipkens, while Naomi Osaka was a comfortable 6-1, 6-1 winner against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
But there were still shocks on the opening day in Melbourne as 23rd seed Angelique Kerber was knocked out 6-0, 6-4 by Bernarda Pera.
In the men’s draw, there were straightforward wins for the likes of last year’s runner-up Dominic Thiem and fellow sees Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic, but No10 seed Gael Monfils was the early big casualty, going down in five sets to Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori.