Italian Open second seed Aryna Sabalenka was eliminated by 134th-ranked Sofia Kenin in her opening match in Rome.
Kenin beat the Madrid Open champion 7-6 6-2 less than a week after Sabalenka overcame Iga Swiatek in the Spanish capital.
Waiting for Kenin in the next round is Anhelina Kalinina, with the pair now hopeful of their chances at a shot at the title following some big-name exits in a tough draw.
“I’m super happy,” the former world No. 4 said on court after the match. “It was a really tough match and she’s played some great tennis, so I’m super proud of myself.
“I had to bring my best tennis in order to win but I felt that I served well, and returned well. I brought my good game so that’s why I won.”
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It’s the 24-year-old’s first triumph over a top-two opponent since she beat then world No.1 Ashleigh Barty en route to the Australian Open title three years ago.
As for Sabalenka, it was a first loss before the quarter-final stage of any event during a stunning season for the Belarusian, where she has a tour-leading record of 29 match wins so far this term.
Kenin’s next opponent, Kalinina, posted a 6-2 6-2 victory over Anna Blinkova earlier in the day.
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