Doha: Slovak glamour girl Daniela Hantuchova was sent packing in the first round of the WTA Qatar Open by little known Romanian Simona Halep on Tuesday as ninth seed Sabine Lisicki was shocked by fellow German Angelique Kerber.
Hantuchova, who won in Pattaya last week, ran into an aggressive baseliner who played a brilliant tie-breaker to clinch a 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) victory after two hours and 32 minutes on court.
"This is one of the best wins of my career, she is a good player, but I'm happy to go into the second round," said Halep after beating the 15th seed.
"I felt pain in my leg but I kept going," added the Romanian, who played with a heavily strapped thigh but nevertheless matched her rival shot for shot, taking a 3-0 lead in the tie-break before closing out when Hantuchova blasted into the net.
Hantuchova's upset followed the 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 ouster of Lisicki by recent Paris Open winner Kerber.
It was the fourth time in as many matches that Kerber had gotten the better of her 14th-ranked compatriot, considered one of the rising stars of the game.
"She's a great player who is also a good friend, so it's not easy playing against her," Kerber said.
"We travel together and live in the same hotels, but I was focused on my game."
Kerber's form has been nothing short of spectacular recently, the German reaching at least the semis in six of the past 10 tournaments she played before winning her first WTA title in Paris last weekend where she beat Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli.
"I am really playing well, but this is a big tournament with many stars playing, but I will really try my best," said the 22-ranked player.
Lisicki said: "I didn't play well at all. I was unwell last week and was recovering. Also I made a lot of unforced errors. Played quite bad, awful in fact."
She added that her focus this year was on the Olympics more than anything else.
"I'm very much looking forward to the Olympics. I have many friends that have been there, and they've told me how nice it is.
"I'm sure it's an extraordinary experience to just be there and play. For me, it's even nicer that it's going to be held in Wimbledon on grass, so it's good."
The top eight players have been given first round byes and will see action only on Wednesday, with world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark the favourites.
Azarenka will take on Germany's Mona Barthel in the second round, while Wozniacki plays Czech Lucie Safarova.