Injuries to her back and right leg meant Farina Elia played only two thirds of her normal number of matches in 2003.
World ranking: 23
Australian Open best:
3rd round (2002 & 1997)
2003: 2nd round
2002: 3rd round
2001: 3rd round
The year began poorly when, seeded 13th, she lost to Nicole Pratt in the second round of the Australian Open.
In March, the 31-year-old was forced to retire in the first round in Miami with heat exhaustion and even a return to her favoured clay made little difference at first.
After five straight defeats starting in March it was a welcome relief to arrive in Strasbourg.
The Italian has won three titles since making her debut in 1989, or rather the same title three times by triumphing in Strasbourg in 2001, 2002 and again last year.
That ensured her ranking remained steady and the following grasscourt season proved an unexpected boost.
Farina Elia surprised many observers by reaching the semi-finals at Eastbourne and the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
However, there would be only six more wins in 2003 and her ranking suffered accordingly.