Petra Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champion who has been hoping to build grasscourt momentum for a third title bid, instead became the latest star to fall at the Aegon Classic on Thursday.
Moving gingerly on the lush surface, and crucially losing momentum after getting a break of serve early in the final set, Kvitova fell to a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 second-round loss to Jelena Ostapenko, the world number 38 from Latvia.
After erasing that deficit in the decider, the 19-year-old up-and-comer became visibly encouraged, pressed harder, hit flatter, and often played the big points better.
Kvitova’s exit followed that of Agnieszka Radwanska, the top seed, and Belinda Bencic, the youngest top ten player, who exited on Wednesday.
“It was difficult to put the pressure on her,” said Kvitova, who played with her right thigh strapped.
“When she dropped serve she became more dangerous. And I wasn’t moving very well today.”
“The problem is the grass. At the beginning (of the grass court season) it is really difficult for the body. I don’t know that I did anything wrong. But at least I played two matches here, and I hope to get more at Eastbourne (next week).”
Neither player was helped by a slightly late start and a 40-minute interruption in the middle of the match, both caused by the incessant showers which have blighted the tournament for four days.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the younger player who proved more resilient in dealing with it all.
The most crucial moments came immediately after Kvitova had broken serve to level at a set all, and then surged into a 2-0 lead in the decider.
She followed it with a poor game, failing to land her first serve frequently enough and then playing even more disappointingly in the seventh game, delivering a double fault and dropping her serve to love.
She earned a break back point in the following game but was denied by a brilliant forehand from Ostapenko which paralleled the side-line, and after that the match ended swiftly.
“I’d beaten her before,” said Ostapenko, referring to a victory on hard courts in Doha in the first week of the year.
“So I thought I could do it again.”
She next plays Madison Keys, the top 20 American who became the first player into the quarterfinals - quite an achievement given the opposition the elements provided - by winning 6-1, 6-3 against Tamira Paszek, the Austrian qualifier.
“Once I was out there, I was definitely really focused on getting on, playing as efficiently as possible, and hopefully finishing before the rain starts again,” said Keys.