Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep shake hands after Halep won in straight sets at the China Open. Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/AP

BEIJING – Maria Sharapova opened up on the despair she feels in defeat after she was ruthlessly knocked out of the China Open in the third round by Romania’s Simona Halep on Wednesday.

The world number two was an emphatic 6-2, 6-2 winner, leaving five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova still searching for her first title since returning from a doping ban in April.

It was the 26-year-old Halep’s first victory over the Russian in eight meetings.

Sharapova, a former number one – now at 104 in the world rankings following her 15-month suspension for taking meldonium – gave an insight into the rollercoaster of emotions in top-level tennis.

“Hard work is not good enough any more, maybe it was – I don’t know how many years ago – but that’s just not a factor anymore,” said the 30-year-old, asked about comments in a book she recently released.

“The reason I say that is there’s some incredible moments, very high moments, and there are very low moments. 

“There have been times where I get off the court and you think, ‘I don’t wish this on my future child’. 

“The feeling is so tough and disappointing.” 

Maria Sharapova is stretched by Simona Halep in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Halep, the second seed on Beijing’s outdoor hard courts, is the first woman into the quarter-finals, where she will play either defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska or Daria Kasatkina of Russia.

With world number one Garbine Muguruza exiting in the first round with a virus, Halep is now favourite.

Sharapova said it was the best Halep had played against her – and Halep agreed.

The two met in the first round at the US Open a few weeks ago and Halep said she was delighted to finally taste victory against Sharapova: “I’m really happy that I could do this. 

“It’s my first victory against her and I just want to enjoy the moment.”