Former champion Agnieszka Radwanska succumbed to a first-round defeat for the third year in succession at the ATP-WTA Eastbourne International on Monday as the top seed was beaten 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4)by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Radwanska, winner here in 2008, failed again to gain traction on the south coast lawns and goes into next week's start of Wimbledon well short of match practise.
German fifth seed Angelique Kerber got off to a winning start on a chilly, dry day at Devonshire Park, where the usual bothersome winds were not in evidence.
The 2012 finalist beat American Alison Riske 7-6 (8/6), 6-4. Elena Vesnina of Russia reached the second round, beating China's Peng Shuai 6-3, 6-4.
Radwanska came to Britain without a title so far this year and fresh from a third-round defeat at Roland Garros.
The Pole had won four of her five previous meetings with the 26th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova.
The Russian spent almost two-and-a-half hours compiling her upset win, firing nine aces and 41 winners while breaking four times from eight chances.
Radwanska took the final set into a tie-break, trailing her Russian opponent 1-3, and 3-5.
Pavlyuchenkova earned three match points from a Radwanska error and advanced on her second as the top seed sent a forehand well wide.
Former world number one Victoria Azarenka is making her return to tennis this week after more than three months out with a foot injury, which she says is now fine.
The two-time Australian Open champion from Belarus starts in the first round on a wild card against Italian Camila Giorgi.
“I'm very excited, I can't wait to play,” said the world number nine. “That's the most important thing. That's why I'm here.
“Once I felt healthy, I started practising and I just wanted to play. I'm here in Eastbourne to try to test myself in competition.
“I've been tested in practise, but competition is a completely different thing. My only expectation is that it won't rain and I'll be able to play.”
In the men's draw, a pair of Frenchman advanced with Jeremy Chardy upsetting fifth seed Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-4 and 2013 finalist Gilles Simon, the number six seed, began with a defeat of Australian qualifier Chris Guccione, playing his first ATP singles match in almost a year, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.
Slovak Martin Klizan, the Munich champion last Mayy knocked out Argentine eighth seed Federico Delbonis 6-4, 6-4.– AFP