Bianca Andreescu took a loss on her 21st birthday, joining fellow WTA Berlin seed Elina Svitolina in opening the grass-court season on a low note Wednesday.
The Canadian third seed won the 2019 US Open but has done little since as she battled a run of injuries,
Frenchwoman Alize Cornet accounted for Andreescu 7-6(2), 7-5 in just over two hours while Svitolina, seeded second, lost to Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 7-5.
The pair of losing seeds had stepped onto grass for the first time this season first-round byes at the new Wimbledon run-up event.
Andreescu qualifies as almost a complete neophyte on grass, having played her only previous tournament on the surface at Wimbledon four years ago after qualifying and losing in the first round.
Her feet last touched the turf in 2018 – a defeat in Wimbledon qualifying. She exited in Germany with eight double-faults and with her serve broken four times.
Cornet, 31, whose best on the surface was an Eastbourne quarter-final in 2019, was inspired before taking the court.
“I was very motivated today, I really wanted this match. In the beginning I was playing very well.
“But Bianca, she’s fighting til the end – she came back and I got pretty tight. But I got myself together at 5-4 and I really tried to stay focused on what I have to do, and in the end it was 7-5.”
Alexandrova defeated Svitolina after three previous losses to the Ukrainian, with the Russian saving seven set points in the second set.
She has now reached a third career quarter-final on grass.
“I really like playing on grass,” she said. “I was looking forward to it. I’m surprised I won in two sets.”
She will play her fifth quarter-final of the season against Swiss fifth seed Belinda Bencic who beat Petra Martic 6-3, 6-4 and produced a winning return while flat on her bum on the grass at the net after a slip