WUHAN (China) • World No. 2 Simona Halep was booted out of tennis' Wuhan Open 6-2, 6-1 by Russia's Daria Kasatkina yesterday, becoming the ninth seeded player to tumble out at the unpredictable tournament.
The Romanian, seeded second, began the second-round match strongly and immediately broke her opponent.
But she was later let down by her service game, managing to convert just 12 per cent of her second serves.
The 25-year-old was competing in her first match since the opening round of the US Open, where she crashed out to Maria Sharapova.
"I didn't play for a month. It's tough to come back and to play matches.
"Maybe it was a mistake that I didn't play, but I needed rest after the US season," she said after the match.
"What I saw after the US Open was that my serve is too soft for the big players, so that's why I decided to work on it more."
In other matches, Karolina Pliskova triumphed over China's second-ranked player Zhang Shuai after a tense three-set battle.
The 25-year-old Czech overpowered Zhang 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in just over two hours, breaking an unlucky streak for the competition's top seeds that has seen nine of them exit the Chinese tournament over the first two days.
Pliskova, seeded third, has never lost a match against Zhang and once again showed she had the measure of her Chinese opponent, who had been on a high after winning the Guangzhou Open last week.
She will now face another home crowd favourite, Wang Qiang, the first Chinese player to reach the third round in Wuhan.
Later, Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, seeded eighth, triumphed over Czech Barbora Strycova 2-6, 7-5, 6-3. Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, seeded ninth, defeated German Julia Gorges 7-5, 7-5.
New world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza of Spain brushed aside Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-4 .
WTA WUHAN OPEN
Q-finals: StarHub Ch203, tomorrow, 2pm