At the WTA Premier Mandatory event in Beijing, a few days after French Open winner Simona Halep retired with a back injury, French finalist Sloane Stephens also departed the event, falling to Dominika Cibulkova 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Since making the US Open quarterfinals, Stephens has lost four of her last six matches.
Fellow seeds Caroline Wozniacki and Karolina Pliskova were both winners.
On Thursday, US Open champion Naomi Osaka battles Julia Goerges. Angelique Kerber clashes with Zhang Shuai and Aryna Sabalenka returns to take on defending champion Caroline Garcia.
“I played against her in Cincinnati,” said Sabalenka who beat the Frenchwoman in Mason. “She had two match points against me. Actually, I don’t know how I save it.
“I have to be more focused because she’s a great player. Well, you have to be focused every point because everything can change in one time, how it happened in Cincinnati. Yeah, it’s a tough one.”
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Halep, Wozniacki Lead Loaded Wuhan Field; Kerber v Keys, Svitolina v Sabalenka Tues.