Shahar Pe’er will enter next week’s Australian Open on the back of yet another disappointing defeat after losing 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 to Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria in the third and final round of qualifying at the Sydney International on Sunday.

Pe’er, ranked No. 77 in the world, fought back from a set and 4-0 down to force a decider against Pironkova (108) but couldn’t complete a comeback.

Pe’er will now turn her focus to the year’s first Grand Slam event, which begins in Melbourne next Monday.

She will be one of at least five Israelis to take part in the Australian Open main draws, with Julia Glushko to also participate in the women’s singles, Dudi Sela in the men’s singles and Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich in doubles.

Amir Weintraub will look to join his countrymen and women when he takes part in the men’s qualifiers this week.

Elsewhere, Roger Federer’s hopes of starting the year with a title ended in failure on Sunday when the Swiss was beaten by local hero Lleyton Hewitt in the Brisbane International final.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion, who won the last of his 77 titles last June, was beaten 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 by a typically gutsy Hewitt, who ended a more than three-year title drought.

World No. 6 Federer, who had led their rivalry 18-8 before the final, looked to have turned the match his way after a slow start before Hewitt rallied to claim the title.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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