Naomi Osaka faces losing her world No.1 ranking after just two months following a shock defeat at the Miami Open.
The top seed collapsed after winning the first set as tour veteran Hsieh Su-Wei won 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 to reach the fourth round.
Osaka’s departure matched the earliest exit by a top-seeded woman at the Florida tournament.
The defeat could strike a double blow if Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep or Angelique Kerber win the title to steal the No.1 ranking.
Hsieh Su-Wei continues to slay at the @MiamiOpen
She stuns World No.1 Osaka, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3! pic.twitter.com/WnqXgNQoxj
— WTA (@WTA) March 23, 2019
In a worrying development, the result forced Osaka to question how she has coped with being on top of the world.
“I feel like I’ve dealt with the stress of people asking me do I have pressure because I have the No.1 next to my name,” Osaka said.
“I thought I was doing fine with that, but I guess I’m not.”
After suffering a first-up defeat in Dubai last month, Osaka won just two matches at Indian Wells two weeks ago before being knocked out in the round of 32.
The poor results have followed Osaka’s off-court drama since taking out the Australian Open.
Osaka surprisingly parted ways with coach Sascha Bajin shortly after leaving Melbourne.
Soon after, another former coach took legal action against the 21-year-old.
Christophe Jean coached Osaka and her sister Mari when the siblings were teenagers in 2011 and claims that he is entitled to a 20 per cent cut of their prize money for an “indefinite” period.
Osaka refused to become embroiled in the saga, suggesting she was unsure how to deal with the development.
“I am still relatively new at this so I can’t really say yet,” she said.
“But maybe as more time goes on I will be able to get a better grasp of the situation.”
Her defeat to Hsieh was the first time in 64 matches that she has lost after winning the first set.
“I know, it’s depressing,” she said, smiling.
“I was thinking about it right after I lost.”
With two-handed groundstrokes from both sides, Hsieh was the steadier player from the baseline against Osaka.
When the Taiwanese player closed out match point with a forehand volley winner, she began to cry as the crowd applauded her performance.