WTA China Open: Heather Watson loses to Varvara Lepchenko in three sets
Heather Watson made an early exit from the China Open in Beijing, losing in three sets to American Varvara Lepchenko.
Last Updated: 28/09/13 2:42pm
The British No 2 won the opening set in style against the player she beat at the Aegon International in June, before going on to lose the decider, 1-6 6-3 6-3.
Watson, 21, looked like the player who clinched her maiden WTA title almost a year ago in Japan by claiming the first set in convincing fashion in Beijing.
But the American left-hander recovered well by breaking twice in both the second and third sets to seal the win.
World No 55 Lepchenko will next meet Petra Kvitova, who beat Angelique Kerber to the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on Saturday and enters at the second-round stage in China.
French interest in the title ended with both Kristina Mladenovic and Alize Cornet crashing out.
Mladenovic battled back from a set down to come within reach of forcing 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro to a third set tie-break, but the Spaniard eventually claimed victory, 6-2 3-6 7-5.
Meanwhile, Cornet retired injured in the first set of her match with Francesca Schiavone, with the score 3-2 in the Italian's favour.
American Sloane Stephens cruised through to the second round, claiming victory over Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak 6-4 6-4 while 10th seed Roberta Vinci beat Elina Svitolina 6-2 6-2.