World No.1 Angelique Kerber has been bundled out of the Italian Open in the second round. Kerber, who returned to the world No.1 position on Monday, lost her opening match to to Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit 6-4 6-0.
It is another blow to the German, who is yet to win a title in 2017 and has struggled with form since January.
“Everybody knows I’m not a clay-court specialist,” Kerber said.
“I was not playing good last year as well. I had a great year, but I mean, these few weeks I was not playing good. And this year it’s the same.”
Meanwhile, Daria Gavrilova is through to the last-16 of the Italian Open after beating French world No. 24 Caroline Garcia 7-5 3-6 6-3.
The 23-year-old Gavrilova, who had to qualify for the tournament after forgetting to enter the main draw, added the scalp of Garcia to that of Madison Keys, who she beat in the first round on Monday.
Garbine Muguruza has emerged as a favourite to win the title after beating Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko.
Spaniard Muguruza, the third seed, will need to sharpen up though after enduring a terrible start against 50th ranked teenager Ostapenko before the reigning French Open champion flicked the switch and won 2-6 6-2 6-1.
Fourth seed Dominika Cibulkova also fell to Russian Ekaterina Makarova 1-6 6-1 6-3 to leave the draw wide open.
American veteran Venus Williams proved more reliable with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine. Ninth seed Williams faces Britain’s Johanna Konta in the last 16 while Muguruza faces Germany’s Julia Goerges.
Second-seeded Karolina Pliskova defeated Lauren Davis of the United States 6-1 6-1 and sixth-seeded Simona Halep beat Laura Siegemund of Germany 6-4 6-4.
Eighth-seeded Elina Svitolina eliminated Alize Cornet of France 6-4 7-6 (13-11), and 15th-seeded Kiki Bertens beat American qualifier CiCi Bellis 6-4 6-0.
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