Serena Williams lost to Patty Schnyder in her first match at the Rome Masters on Tuesday.
Serena Williams of the U.S. hits a return against Patty Schnyder of Switzerland at the Rome Masters tennis tournament in Rome May 6, 2009. [Xinhua]
Williams, playing her first match in almost a month, appeared to be moving with difficulty at times during her 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 loss on clay at Foro Italico.
Dinara Safina, the player who overtook the top spot from Williams, bumped off Virginie Razzano of France 7-6 (1), 6-1.
Defending champion Jelena Jankovic and French Open champion Ana Ivanovic all advanced to the third round, as play was disrupted by rain and went late into the night.
Williams was broken twice in the first set, came back in the second set but the 2002 champion went down 5-0 in the third, and fell for the first time before the quarterfinals in nine visits to Rome. Williams also lost three consecutive tour matches for the first time since the end of 2007.
Schnyder, ranked 20th, won for the fourth time in 12 matches with Williams, and second time in Rome.
Patty Schnyder of Switzerland smiles after winning her match against Serena Williams of the United States at the Rome Masters tennis tournament in Rome May 6, 2009. [Xinhua]
Safina overcame a shaky start, allowing Razzano to take the initiative for most of the first set, but she dominated the tiebreaker and then kept the momentum with an early break in the second set before winning the last four games.
She complained that the rain before the match had made the court damp and dangerous to play on.
"I was just so angry, because you can get injured," said the Russian, who fell in the first set as she rushed to the net to retrieve a drop shot, but couldn't slide.
Earlier, Jankovic began her defense of the Rome title with a 6-3, 7-6 (6) win over Gisela Dulko. The match was suspended for about three and a half hours due to rain.
In other matches, seventh-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-3, and eighth-seeded Nadia Petrova beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Caroline Wozniacki, Flavia Pennetta and Kaia Kanepi also advanced, while 11th-seeded Marion Bartoli and Alize Cornet were both upset.
The 13th-seeded Cornet, last year's runner-up, lost 6-4, 6-1 to Kateryna Bondarenko, and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Bartoli 6-1, 7-5.
(Xinhua News Agency May 6, 2009)