Top seed Agnieszka Radwanksa crashed out in the first round of the Aegon International for the third year in a row.
Unseeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova went through to the second round at the pre-tournament favourite’s expense after taking the match 6-4, 3-6, 7-6.
It’s an all too familiar feeling for Radwanska (pictured), who exited at this stage and she was up against it from the off after losing the opening set on the Devonshire Park centre court. Despite winning more points overall, she struggled to deal with the Russian’s powerful serve and watched nine aces fly past her.
The first set was finely poised at 2-2 and when Radwanska lost her service game to hand the Russian the advantage but she broke straight back to restore parity. At 4-4 she was broken once more, though, and Pavlyuchenkova held on to go 1-0 up.
During a flurry of breaks in the second set, Radwanksa broke early on, only to lose on her serve again in the following game.
She regained composure, though, to break straight back and held out to take the set before the pair exchanged breaks once more at the beginning of the deciding set.
Firstly Radwanksa looked to have seized the advantage before being broken to 15 in the next game. There was little more drama other than a monumental deuce battle in game seven and it eventually took a tie-break to separate the pair.
Radwanska struggled to recover from an early break and, despite saving two match points, it was Pavlyuchenkova who was left to celebrate a tournament scalp and is rewarded with a place in round two.
Attentions for Radwanska will now turn to Wimbledon. Despite a history of leaving Eastbourne early she has a good record at SW19 and, while she was disappointed to have lost, she thinks the match will leave her in good stead ahead of the start of the tournament on Monday
“It was a very good match, a very good three sets and I think the first set was a little bit difficult for me,” she said.
“It was my first match on the grass and it was a little bit faster than the practice courts.
“I remember Anastasia has always been good on grass, ever since we played in juniors, so I knew it was going to be a very tough match. The first match is always tricky and it was a great match to have before Wimbledon.”
Elsewhere, Caroline Wozniacki saw off Sam Stosur in straight sets, the Dane winning 6-4, 7-5. Fifth seed Angelique Kerber also beat American Alison Riske in straight sets, while reigning champion Elena Vesnina started the defence of her title with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Shuai Peng.
Former Eastbourne champion Tamira Paszek was knocked out in the first round, losing to Laura Davis 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 and in the men’s draw, Ivo Karlovic fell at the first hurdle after losing 6-4, 6-4 to Jeremy Chardy.