Maria Sharapova's return to the Qatar Open ended in first-round disappointment as she was beaten 4-6 6-4 6-3 by qualifier Monica Niculescu on Monday.
Sharapova – making her first appearance in Qatar since 2013 – came into the tournament with a fine record in Doha, the Russian having made at least the semi-finals in each of her three previous appearances.
She was champion in 2005 and 2008, and was only denied five years ago by Serena Williams in the last four.
Keeping up that impressive run proved a step too far against Niculescu, though, despite a strong start to their match.
Sharapova broke three times in the opening set to move ahead, however she struggled to confirm the 1-0 lead, needing nine break chances to move 5-2 ahead.
The wildcard then failed to serve out for the set, wasting four opportunities before eventually getting the job done.
It looked like being a straightforward victory from there but Niculescu refused to give in, battling away from the baseline and ruthlessly taking her chances when errors crept into Sharapova's game.
Niculescu's fondness for the slice caused her illustrious opponent problems, Sharapova allowing the match to slip from her grasp and her body language changing as the contest entered a deciding set.
The world number 41's frustrations became all too apparent in the third as she tried to force the play, but her timing was off and she finished the match with 52 unforced errors.
Niculescu broke in the eighth game of the final set to open the door, and more mistakes from Sharapova allowed the Romanian to serve out to love to progress to round two.
|Mandzukic retires from Croatia duty after World Cup|
|Ben Stokes found not guilty of affray|
|Tottenham issue new stadium update and apology to fans|
|Chelsea flop Bakayoko moves to AC Milan on loan|
|Gabi urges Al Sadd team-mate Xavi to play on|
|Ronaldo leads UEFA Goal of the Season nominees|
|Federer: Djokovic could be caught up in US Open pressure|
|Ronaldo to Juventus a huge boost for Serie A – Matthaus|
|Werner would welcome Ozil Germany return|
|´Perfectionist´ Serena admits to ´unrealistic´ expectations in tennis and motherhood|
|Klopp praises Deschamps and his ´boring´ France|
|LaLiga 2018-19: Bale or Griezmann - Who will step into Ronaldo´s breach as Messi´s main rival?|
|Woods winning 15th major would be greatest comeback in sport – Faldo|
|Retiring Storm great Hoffman not giving up on Finals dream|
|Folau won´t change aerial approach in All Blacks showdown|
|Racism behind Sterling criticism, says ex-Arsenal star Wright|
|Eto´o joins Qatar SC following Ligue 1 links|
|UEFA Super Cup 2018-19: Atletico academy eclipsing Madrid, La Masia|
|UEFA Super Cup 2018-19: Should Real Madrid cash in on Modric?|
|Scintillating Serena sends warning, Azarenka survives opener|
|DeGrom strikes out 12, Mets hit 5 homers in win over Yankees|
|Djokovic needs nine MPs as Murray crashes out|
|Murray unsure of US Open readiness after Cincinnati exit|
|Van Dijk: Alisson making difference at Liverpool|
|Johnson saves eight MPs but Djokovic prevails|
|Federer anxious ahead of Cincinnati comeback|
|Tevez relishing Messi reunion|
|Ronaldo arrival has taken Juve forward in Europe – Nedved|
|Serena steamrolls Gavrilova in Cincinnati return|
|Packers QB Rodgers doesn´t regret criticising team-mates|
|Indians OF Martin recovering from life-threatening bacterial infection|
|Shoulder injury sends Royals starter Duffy to DL|
|Yankees place Sabathia on DL with right knee inflammation|
|Aubameyang urges Emery to capitalise on his ´spark´ with Lacazette|
|Anderson can play until he´s 40, says Bayliss|
|Keita living childhood dream after securing Inter switch|
|49ers to sign veteran RB Alfred Morris, Kyle Shanahan says|
|Arnaiz leaves Barcelona for Leganes in €5m deal|
|Tottenham´s move to new stadium delayed|
|Roosters-bound Hall suffers ACL injury|
|Murray suffers Cincinnati defeat to Pouille|
|No Cech mate - Arsenal goalkeeper hits back at Bayer Leverkusen|
|Halep first to seal WTA Finals spot|
|Veteran Carmelo Anthony pens one-year Rockets deal|
|Runners and Ryders: Poulter closes in on Team Europe spot|
|Gameiro presented by Valencia after departing Atletico Madrid|
|World Cup winner Kimpembe extends PSG contract to 2023|
|AC Milan send Locatelli on loan to Sassuolo|
|South Africa´s Etzebeth set for return from injury|
|Rafinha ´very likely´ to stay at Barcelona|
|No dual Ryder Cup role should Woods make USA team, says Furyk|
|Inter complete Keita deal|
|David Silva announces retirement from international football|
|Modric in Real Madrid´s UEFA Super Cup squad amid Inter links|
|Neville hopes Shaw is on to something special after first United goal|
|Unchanged England waiting on Stokes verdict|
|Yates brothers to race Vuelta together|
|Kalinic explains why he rejected World Cup medal|
|Furyk excited to see Woods´ return to form|
|Liverpool ignoring media´s champions chat, says Van Dijk|
|Suspended Smith replaces Kohli as top-ranked Test batsman|
|Tiger fanfare inevitable but it´s time to recognise Koepka as the star he is|
|Dier: Tottenham will shut up transfer critics|
|Fernandes leaves West Ham for Fiorentina on loan|
|´No chance´ Willian would have stayed at Chelsea under Conte|
|Vettel confident he can catch Hamilton|
|Cane dismisses talk of All Blacks limiting haka|
|Zaha promises Palace commitment as contract talks continue|
|Real Madrid defender Odriozola to miss UEFA Super Cup|
|All Blacks wary of Pocock threat|