Simona Halep's preparations for the French Open were dealt a huge blow on Sunday as the world number two was beaten in Madrid.
The Romanian was runner-up to Maria Sharapova 12 months ago, but there will be no repeat after she was knocked in the first round by Alize Cornet.
After a tight opening set – that saw Halep waste a set point – the 23-year-old lost her way in the tie-break and was unable to rectify the situation as Cornet broke twice in the second to seal a 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 win.
With only three weeks until the year's second grand slam begins at Roland Garros, Halep will hope for a quick upturn in her form if she is to reach match her feat of reaching the final in Paris for a second successive year.
Defending champion Sharapova had no such problems as she cruised past Timea Bacsinszky 6-2 6-3, but 12th seed Angelique Kerber is also out after a 4-6 6-3 6-3 defeat to Sam Stosur.
World number five – and fifth seed – Caroline Wozniacki continued the form that saw her reach the final in Stuttgart with a comprehensive 6-3 6-0 win over Jarmila Gajdosova, and Carla Suarez Navarro beat Zarina Diyas 6-4 6-4.