Top-ranked and defending champion Dinara Safina was knocked out in the second round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Monday by Taiwanese qualifier Chang Kai-chen only hours before her fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova was ousted in another upset result.
Safina was serving for the match in the third set when she double-faulted to give up a break.
Chang, ranked 132nd and playing only for the fourth time in a WTA main draw, held her own serve and then broke Safina again for a 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5 win to reach the third round of the $2 million tournament.
“The double fault didn't effect me that much,” Safina said. “Whether it's a double fault or a mistake it's the same. It's just the way I played at 5-4. It wasn't the right game, I didn't use my first serve the whole game.”
Chang converted her third match point on Safina's forehand error after the Russian had fought back from 0-40 to 30-40.
“On match point, I was just thinking the same thing as always,” Chang said. “I wasn't thinking ‘Oh, I have match point, I'm going to win.’”
Safina's status as the world's top-ranked player has been under scrutiny and a third-round loss to 72nd-ranked Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic at the U.S. Open did little to ease that.
She has never won a major title but has been consistent in other tournaments, winning three titles this year and four in 2008.
French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova followed her compatriot out of the tournament. The fifth seed was upset 7-5 4-6 6-3 by Germany's Andrea Petkovic, also a qualifier.
However, former Tokyo winner Maria Sharapova restored some pride for the Russians and gave the tournament sponsors some cheer with a battling and hard-fought 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory over Italy's Francesca Schiavone.