Top seed Francesca Schiavone and defending champion Sabine Lisicki lost in straight sets in the second round of the Aegon Classic on Wednesday, as players struggled with rain, wind and an unfamiliar grass-court surface.
Misaki Doi, a Japanese left-hander ranked outside the world’s top 100, beat Schiavone 7-5, 6-4, while Urszula Radwanska defeated the second-seeded Lisicki 6-3, 6-4 in the Wimbledon warm-up tournament.
Daniela Hantuchova’s 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) loss to Melinda Czink of Hungary ensured the top three seeded players bowed out in their opening match.
Schiavone acknowledged that even though she was the tournament favorite, the surface usually presents problems for her. However, Lisicki can claim to be among the leading grass-court players after reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals last year.
The powerful German appeared to be suffering from breathing problems and she called for a doctor after going a break down early in the second set so she could take what appeared to be some puffs from an asthma inhaler.
Lisicki rallied, but Radwanska, who won the grass-court Challenger title in Nottingham last week, returned her opponent’s heavy ground-strokes by varying her direction to tenaciously hold serve.
Lisicki has a grass allergy and plans to consult with medics to prevent a repeat during Wimbledon.
On the more variable outside courts, there were also defeats for sixth seed Mona Barthel of Germany, No. 7 seed Christina McHale of the US, No. 14 Timea Babos of Hungary and No. 15 Elena Baltacha of Britain.
The upsets augur well for former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, who saved two set points and survived a bee attack before winning 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) against British wild-card Melanie South, a grass-court specialist.
Jankovic defeated Maria Sharapova to win the Birmingham title five years ago.
“That was the last time I was here, so I would love to win it again,” said Jankovic, who tore a thigh muscle in February to slip outside the top 20. “I think my taste is changing because I actually do like grass and I never used to. I hit the ball pretty flat and I have the game to do well on it.”
The bee attack happened not long after Jankovic had played a bad service game and, trailing 2-4 in the second set, seemed ready to receive South’s first service of the seventh game. Instead, she suddenly ran toward the back stop, calling out: “Wait. Wait. Wait.”
Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei took down Alexandra Panova of Russia 6-4, 6-2 to move into the third round, while Chang Kai-chen was knocked out by No. 15 seed Elena Baltacha of Britain 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
In the doubles, Taiwanese duo Chan Yung-jan and her younger sister Chan Hao-ching advanced to the second round after eliminating Polish pair Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Alicja Rosolska 6-2, 6-4.
Additional reporting by staff writer, with CNA