Madrid - World number two Simona Halep has slumped to a shock 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 defeat to France's Alize Cornet in the first round of the Madrid Open on Sunday.
Halep reached the final in the Spanish capital last year, but looked
out of sorts as a double fault handed Cornet the opening set in a
And the Romanian's serve crumbled when serving to stay
in the match in the second as Cornet wrapped up victory in just under
two hours on court.
Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard's alarming
slump continued as she lost a sixth consecutive match to the Czech
Republic's Barbora Strycova.
Bouchard looked to be set for a
morale-boosting win as she cruised through the first set 6-0, but
Strycova stormed back to win the next two sets 6-3.
There were no
such problems for defending champion Maria Sharapova who showed no signs
of her recent struggles with form and fitness as she beat Switzerland's
Timea Bacsinszky 6-2, 6-3.
Halep's exit could be a big boost for
Sharapova had been set to meet the Romanian in the last four had both
women made it that far.
Sharapova dominated the Bacsinszky serve in the first set to break three times and then depended on her own in the second.
break in the eighth game was enough to set up a second round clash with
Britain's Heather Watson or Colombian Mariana Duque-Marino.
Caroline Wozniacki continued her encouraging form of late with a comfortable 6-3, 6-0 win over Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova.
Dane's conquerer in the final in Stuttgart last weekend, Angelique
Kerber, suffered an early exit, though, as the German lost out 4-6, 6-3,
6-3 to former US Open champion Samantha Stosur.
There was also
plenty for the home fans to cheer as 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro and
world number 20 Garbine Muguruza booked their places in the second round
with straight sets wins over Zarina Diyas and Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor