Cape Town - The second day of the Wuhan Open featured several big upsets, with defending champion Petra Kvitova eliminated.
Former World No 1 Angelique Kerber and both US Open finalists - champion Sloane Stephens and runner-up Madison Keys - also exited the tournament on Monday as the top seeds got decimated.
Kvitova was beaten 7-6 (9-7), 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3) by home favourite Peng Shuai after an epic encounter that lasted over three and a half hours - the longest tour-level match of the season.
The two players were evenly matched throughout, sharing nearly 100 winners between them, with Peng only narrowly edging the contest at the death.
"It's always more difficult to play someone in their home country, but I heard my fans too, so it was nice that they cheered for me," said Kvitova after the match.
"It's probably the longest match I've ever played, and it was really up and down. I probably should have taken the first set tie-break after leading 6-3. Still, I fought really hard from 5-3 down in the third. In the end, she was a little bit luckier.
Johanna Konta, meanwhile, was beaten 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3) by unseeded Australian Ashleigh Barty in the only second-round clash of the day.
Konta, who received a bye into the second round, has now suffered four straight defeats, having also suffered early exits in Toronto, Flushing Meadows and Tokyo.
“It’s one of those things where I’m keen to get more matches in, but I keep coming up against players who’ve got that one more match in them than me,” Konta said.
“If you look at all the players in the Top 10 - or anywhere in the game - they will go through periods of finding themselves, finding their level and their game again. I guess it’s my time to do that too.”
US Open finalists Stephens and Keys both seemed off their game as well, with the former going down 6-2, 6-2 to another local player, Wang Qiang, and the latter nursing a wrist injury as she lost 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) to Varvara Lepchenko.
Kerber joined the exodus after being beaten 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 by Caroline Garcia.