Victoria Azarenka became the latest high-profile casualty at the Aegon International after she was defeated in an epic three set match by Italian Camila Giorgi.
The fourth seed and former world number one was playing her first match since March after recovering from a knee injury.
Giorgi, world number 44, will go on to face Eastbourne’s very own Johanna Konta in round two.
Azarenka looked on course for a place against the British number two after taking the first set but Giorgi took the second, before sealing victory in a third set which lasted over an hour.
Her powerful backhand was a threat throughout and she made an early breakthrough in the first set before Azrenka broke twice herself on the way to going a set up.
The second was one-way-traffic, though, as Giorgi broke in the first two Azarenka service games and took the set 6-3.
That seemed to endear the Italian to the Eastbourne faithful and, playing on centre court for the first time; she was delighted with the support.
“It was a really nice atmosphere out there,” she said
Giorgi had the chance to serve out the match at 5-4 but the occasion seemed to get to her and she failed to capitalise, losing the game to love. To her credit, however, she broke back immediately and needed just one match point to claim the scalp of the former Australian Open winner.
After an epic deuce battle with the set finely poised at 5-5, Giorgi came put on top and held her nerve this time before composing herself in game 12 to calmly serve out the match.
For Azarenka, while she was disappointed to lose, she thinks this comeback game was the perfect preparation as attention now turns to Wimbledon.
“It’s exactly what I wanted, I wanted a competitive match and to test myself,” she said
“I didn’t expect an easy walk through today, it would be silly to think that but I’m pretty pleased with what happened.
“Obviously the result is the result but there is a lot of positive things I can take from today.”
Elsewhere, fellow Italian and sixth seed Flavia Pennetta beat Su-Wei Hsieh in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, while Sara Errani was defeated by American qualifier Lauren Davis 7-6, 6-2.
Daniela Hantuchova saw off Roberta Vinvi with relative ease 7-5, 6-1.
In the men’s draw, Jarkko Nieminen saw off seventh seed Santiago Giraldo and Julien Benneteau beat Yen-Hsun Lu.
Over on court one, third seed Jelena Jankovic lost to American Madison Keys 6-3, 6-3, with Keys playing 2013 champion Elena Vesnina in the next round.
British no. 3 James Ward fell to an improving Donald Young in their first round matchup as he lost out to the American 6-3, 6-2, Young’s consistent first serve proving too much for Ward.
In the final match of the day Heather Watson beat Pironkova 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 on centre court.