Simona Halep returns the ball against Daria Kasatkina at the Wuhan Open on Tuesday. Photo: Zhang Duan/Xinhua
Simona Halep returns the ball against Daria Kasatkina at the Wuhan Open on Tuesday. Photo: Zhang Duan/Xinhua
Daria Kasatkina can't hide her smile after beating World No 2 Simona Halep on Tuesday. Photo: Zhang Duan/Xinhua
Daria Kasatkina can't hide her smile after beating World No 2 Simona Halep on Tuesday. Photo: Zhang Duan/Xinhua

WUHAN, China – Simona Halep was defeated 6-2, 6-1 by Russia’s Daria Kasatkina on Tuesday at a tumultuous Wuhan Open that has seen two-thirds of the top seeds tumble out in the first two rounds.

World No 2 Halep headed for the exit together with Dane Caroline Wozniacki, ranked sixth, who crashed out 7-5, 6-3 to Maria Sakkari of Greece.

They followed fellow seeds Johanna Konta, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Petra Kvitova among others, who all suffered surprise defeats on Monday. 

Halep begun her second-round match strongly and immediately broke her opponent. But she was later let down by her service game, managing to convert just 12 percent of her second serves.

The 25-year-old Romanian was competing in her first match since the opening round of the US Open, where she lost to Maria Sharapova.

“I didn’t play for a month. It’s tough to come back and to play matches... Maybe it was a mistake that I didn’t play, but I needed rest after the US season,” she said after the match.

“What I saw after the US Open was that my serve is too soft for the big players, so that’s why I decided to work on it more,” she added.

Meanwhile Wozniacki, seeded four, was upset by Sakkari, ranked 80th in the world, who grabbed her first win over a top-20 player.

The defeat came after Wozniacki, who finished as year-end world number one in 2010 and 2011, won her third Pan Pacific Open in Japan last week, capturing her first title of the year. She had previously lost six finals.

In other matches, Karolina Pliskova triumphed over China’s second-ranked player Zhang Shuai after a tense three-set battle.

The 25-year-old Czech overpowered Zhang 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in just over two hours, breaking an unlucky streak for the competition’s top seeds.