Top seed Svetlana Kuznetsova was bundled out of the Indian Wells WTA tournament on Saturday, piling up unforced errors in a 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 loss to Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro in the second round.
Twice champion and former world number one Kim Clijsters of Belgium had a much easier time on a sunny afternoon in the California desert, cruising into the third round with a 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
French Open champion Kuznetsova, runner-up here in 2007 and 2008, delivered an erratic display and was broken three times in the final set to lose a match lasting one hour, 56 minutes.
The Russian world number three angrily slammed her racket to the ground after losing the first point of the seventh game of the third set when trailing 1-5 and serving to stay in the match.
Kuznetsova, who was eliminated in the same round here last year, failed to win a point in that game and Suarez Navarro sealed victory when a backhand by the Russian sailed wide.
"I feel now very happy," the 42nd-ranked Spaniard said in a courtside interview after booking a place in the third round against Hungary's Agnes Szavay.
"For me, this is one of the most important matches of my life. I play good and I am happy to be in the next round."
Kuznetsova, who has produced patchy form this season after winning her second grand slam title at last year's French Open, lost the opening set after being broken in the first and fifth games.
After trading service breaks with Suarez Navarro early in the second, the Russian appeared to regain control from the baseline with her crunching ground strokes and she levelled the match by breaking the Spaniard in the 10th game.
However, Kuznetsova struggled to maintain momentum and she ended a frustrating match with a total of 69 unforced errors compared to just 38 by Suarez Navarro.
"It's frustrating because I know I have the game," said Kuznetsova, who as the third seed reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in January before losing to compatriot Nadia Petrova.
"I do practice, play unbelievable and then I get to the match and I don't do much. I feel good and the ball doesn't go where I want it to go.
"So my thinking is I just need more matches," added the Russian who has advanced no further than the fourth round in her four WTA appearances this year.
Fourteenth seed Clijsters, who returned to competitive tennis in 2009 following a two-year retirement and won her second US Open title in just her third tournament back, made short work of Zahlavova Strycova in just under an hour.
In other matches, third seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus breezed past Austrian Sybille Bammer 6-1, 7-5 while 12th-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva, last year's champion, beat American qualifier Sloane Stephens 6-4, 7-5.