BIRMINGHAM, England - It was a rough day for the favorites at the AEGON Classic on Wednesday, as Top 3 seeds Francesca Schiavone, Sabine Lisicki and Daniela Hantuchova all lost their openers in straight sets.
The No.1-seeded Schiavone was the first to go, leading by a break in both sets but eventually succumbing to tricky Japanese lefty Misaki Doi, 75 64.
"It usually takes me a little bit of time to feel comfortable on a new surface, and I didn't feel that good today," Schiavone said. "I'm upset because I can play much, much better than this - it will just take time and I'll have to work at it.
"I'll play in 's-Hertogenbosch next week. I need to play as much as I can before Wimbledon - I think playing more matches is the key for me on grass."
Lisicki, the No.2 seed and defending champion at the International-level tournament, was the next to go, getting broken early in both sets and never quite catching up, eventually falling to Poland's Urszula Radwanska, 63 64.
"I had some breathing problems today, which didn't make life easier, but I never thought about quitting," Lisicki said after the match. "I was fighting for every point as much as I could, but I made some poor shot choices out there.
"I have good memories from last year here. I just couldn't make it today."
The No.3-seeded Hantuchova came closest to surviving of the Top 3 seeds, building 5-3 leads in both sets - and even holding five set points in the first set - but she was edged by Hungarian left-hander Melinda Czink, 75 76(5).
Though Schiavone was the top seed, Lisicki and Hantuchova's exits may be more surprising, given the two of them were in the final here last year.
There were some survivors, with No.4 seed Roberta Vinci winning by retirement over Virginie Razzano, who stopped due to a right wrist injury after losing the first set, and No.5 seed Jelena Jankovic rallying from 4-1 down in the second set and saving two set points to beat British wildcard Melanie South, 61 76(3).
"Even though I was down in the second set, everything can turn around so fast when you're playing on grass," Jankovic said. "A few good returns here and there and I was back in the match. I did exactly that. And I think I played those crucial points very well at the end. I'm happy I could make it through today.
"It was my first match on grass this year. You never know how it's going to go - so overall I'm pleased to get through this match today."
No.8 seed Ekaterina Makarova, No.9 seed Marina Erakovic and No.13 seed Hsieh Su-Wei all won, while No.6 seed Mona Barthel, No.7 seed Christina McHale, No.14 seed Timea Babos and No.15 seed Elena Baltacha all lost as the second round was played out at the Edgbaston Priory Club.
Four first round matches were also completed earlier in the day, with Hsieh, Babos, Baltacha and Alexandra Panova all having to fight deep into the third set to advance - Hsieh actually had to save a match point at 64 54 down to get past Russian qualifier Vera Dushevina in a nail-biter, 46 76(5) 64.