Former Rome Masters winner Karolina Plsikova was bounced out on Thursday in the second round of the event she once dominated, losing 7-6 (5), 6-2 to Hungarian qualifier Anna Bondar.
The Czech who beat Brit Johanna Konta for the 2019 title has a rich history at the Foro Italico, playing finals here against Simona Halep and Iga Swiatek.
Bondar, 25, has reversed an eight-match loss streak at the lower levels of the WTA after arriving in Rome.
The No. 93 once stood inside the Top 50 and is now into the third round at a Masters 1000 for the first time.
Rome finalist and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka dismissed fellow former Grand Slam winner Sloane Stephens (2017 US Open) 6-3, 6-4 in one and three-quarter hours and six break of serve.
2013 Rome finalist Azarenka twice went a break down in the opening set before making her recovery.
The 33-year-old mother of son Leo fired nearly twice as many winners (25) as her American opponent, who arrived here after winning a minor clay title in France on the back of a six-match success streak.
Stephens defeated Azarenka four times in the last decade, but has now lost twice to her this season.