World number three Karolina Pliskova was dumped out of the second round of the Madrid Open on Monday 6-3, 6-3 by Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova.
However, top seed Angelique Kerber fought back from 5-3 down in the deciding set to avoid a similar fate as she overcame Katerina Siniakova 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 to set up a potential third round showdown with Maria Sharapova.
Pliskova, seeded second in the absence of world number one Serena Williams as she is expecting her first child, has struggled on the clay after a great start to the season on the hard courts of Australia and the USA.
Following early exits in Stuttgart and on home soil in Prague last week, world number 22 Sevastova’s run of seven straight games from 3-2 down in the first set to lead by a set and 3-0 was decisive.
Sevastova was solid on serve throughout and needed just one break in the second and she served out to set up a meeting with Barbora Strycova or Lara Arruabarrena in the third round.
Kerber has also had an inconsistent season and her fragile form was on show in the course of the first two sets.
The German romped through the opening set in 27 minutes but then had to save six break points for her only game in the second.
Siniakova served for the match at 5-4 in the deciding set, but Kerber should impressive fight to win the last four games.
Next up Kerber will face the winner of Sharapova’s grudge match with Eugenie Bouchard in the headline act of Monday’s night session as the Russian continues her comeback from a doping ban.
Bouchard called Sharapova “a cheater” last week and suggested she should have been banned for life — rather than 15 months — after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.