Australia’s hopes of a promotion to the Fed Cup World Group have suffered another blow with the withdrawal of revitalised star Jelena Dokic.
Dokic on Monday pulled out of the team due to “exhaustion”, saying she planned to take a break to recover.
After ending an eight-and-a-half-year WTA title-winning drought with victory in Kuala Lumpur, Dokic has had mixed results and lost in the first round of the WTA event in Charleston, South Carolina last week.
Australia’s top-ranked player Samantha Stosur already made herself unavailable for selection, preferring to prepare for next month’s French Open.
Stosur was a finalist at Roland Garros last year and stands to lose a bag of WTA points without a strong performance.
The 27-year-old already dropped one place on Monday after failing to defend her title in Charleston.
Stosur lost both her matches in the Fed Cup first-round loss to Italy earlier this year and has only once progressed past the round of 16 this season.
Australia are due to play Ukraine in the World Group play-offs at Glen Iris this weekend and are fighting to remain at the elite level after the loss to reigning champions Italy.
Ukraine clinched a decisive doubles rubber victory in Sweden in their World Group II tie for a place in the playoffs for the fourth successive year.
Australia whitewashed Ukraine 5-0 in Kharkiv in this round last year when led by Stosur and Anastasia Rodionova.
Rodionova, ranked 64 in the world, was named in the original team, along with No.29 Jarmila Groth, Sophie Ferguson and Dokic.
Australia will still start strong favourites with Ferguson having beaten Ukraine’s two top players, Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko on clay – the surface this weekend’s tie will be played on – in the past 12 months.
West Australian Casey Dellacqua has made a strong case for inclusion in the team to replace Dokic.
Dellacqua at the weekend won the Bundaberg International, beating Victorian Olivia Rogowska 6-2 6-3.
She also paired with Rogowska to claim their fourth doubles title on the Australian Pro Tour in 2011.