Second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo was bounced out of the Sydney International yesterday, while Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne cruised into the quarterfinals.
After a bye in the first round Mauresmo, in her first match since winning the season-ending WTA Championships in November, was upset 6-3, 7-5 by Ana Ivanovic of Serbia-Montenegro in the second.
Mauresmo struggled with her own serve and Ivanovic's booming forehand. The third-ranked Mauresmo got less than 40 percent of her first serves in, and was broken five times.
Ivanovic, who finished last season at No. 16 and also beat Mauresmo in the last year's French Open, put everything into her groundstrokes, hitting most of her 28 winners on the forehand side.
With Mauresmo serving to stay in the match for a second time at 5-6, Ivanovic ripped forehand return and forehand crosscourt winners on consecutive points to set up two match points.
Mauresmo saved one, but then dumped a forehand into the net.
She said a lack of match practice counted against her, but credited Ivanovic's forehand for the outcome.
"I think it's at the level with the biggest hitters in the women's game," said Mauresmo. "She's hitting it pretty hard and also is capable of really hiding it well -- that's her biggest weapon."
Mauresmo will travel early to Melbourne to prepare for next week's Australian Open, where the former top-ranked Frenchwoman hopes to win her first major in 32 attempts.
Ivanovic next faces sixth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open winner, who led Dinara Safina 6-3 when her fellow Russian withdrew because of blisters on her left foot.
Top-seeded Clijsters beat China's Li Na 6-3, 6-1 in 53 minutes, and the fifth-seeded Henin-Hardenne cruised past Russia's Vera Dushevina 6-2, 6-2 in 55 minutes.
Henin-Hardenne, who beat Martina Hingis on Monday, is growing in confidence as she remains painfree in her first tournament since being sidelined with a right hamstring strain in October.
Reigning US Open champion Clijsters took some time to adjust to the heat, coming off an exhibition tournament win over world No. 1-ranked Lindsay Davenport in cold conditions at Hong Kong.
Her quarterfinal opponent is Italy's Francesca Schiavone, who rallied for a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1 win over China's Yan Zi.
On the men's side, three more seeded players went out yesterday.
No. 4 Richard Gasquet, No. 6 Tommy Robredo and No. 7 Radek Stepanek joined former top-ranked Juan Carlos Ferrero, seeded fifth, as first-round losers. No. 3 Thomas Johansson withdrew because of a right shoulder strain.