Halep and Bouchard crash out

A semi-finalist last year, this time Halep folded from a strong position to lose 5-7 6-4 6-3 against Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova,??ranked 106th in the world.

Bouchard earlier became the first big-name casualty of this year’s tournament as the 2014 runner-up was dumped out 7-6 6-4 in the first round by Chinese qualifier Duan Ying-Ying.

The Canadian enchanted the crowd as one of the stars of last year’s tournament before losing in the final to Petra Kvitova, but has struggled for form since March, falling in the first round of the French Open before picking up an abdominal injury at Eastbourne earlier this month.??

She committed 10 double-faults and 23 unforced errors against Duan, who had previously never beaten a player inside the world top 75.

Bouchard, now 21, showed extraordinary self-belief during her terrific run last year.

She joked about her mother’s fascination with the Royal family – she and twin sister Beatrice are named after the children of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York. But Bouchard was a steely character, and losing the final to Petra Kvitova was a heavy blow.

She was expected to push on this year and challenge Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova for the grand slams, and the top ranking, but Bouchard has gone backwards instead, tumbling out of the world’s top 10.

A run of nine defeats in 10 matches before arriving in England told its own sorry story.

Bouchard split from coach Nick Saviano in the winter, with Frenchman Sam Sumyk later appointed his successor. In May she was named the world’s most marketable athlete – bar none – by Sport Pro magazine.

In contrast, Duan came through qualifying for Wimbledon this year and the 25-year-old has career earnings under #250,000.

This was her Wimbledon debut and she seized the moment against an opponent who was there for the taking, far from the warrior who caused such a stir the last time she was in London.

That could be put down to a substantial degree to an abdominal injury that Bouchard suffered when retiring from a match during the Aegon International earlier in June.

Bouchard said: “I felt very unprepared for this match but I wanted to play no matter what.

“After Eastbourne we did testing and I’ve got a grade two tear in my abs.

“It was probably not smart to play here but I couldn’t pass on Wimbledon.

“I was taped and it felt okay and I was trying not to think about it, but I haven’t practised that much so I felt my timing was very off.

“I’m going to take some time to heal and maybe not think about tennis for a little bit and then get back to it.

“There was no question I was going to play even though I was advised not to. I was going out to play to the end no matter what.

“I’m disappointed because I lost and it was probably not the smartest decision.”

Looking at her form, Bouchard said: “I’m very disappointed in my last couple of months. It has been a stressful time.”

The question of whether she should split from Sumyk came up, and Bouchard said: “Maybe I should. We’ve definitely not started well at all.

“I believe in him and he believes in me and as of right now that’s still the plan.”