Jo Konta, Britain’s No1 and world No8, crashed out of the Beijing Open to record her fifth consecutive first round loss in what is turning out to be a very disappointing latter half of the season.
The 26-year-old only manged to win three games in the 64-minute defeat to Monica Niculescu, the Romanian ranked 58 places below her as she struggled to keep her place in the WTA Championships in Singapore which is reserved for the top eight players at the end of the season.
Konta lost her serve to love twice asking in the opening set as Niculescu stormed into a 5-0 lead before the Briton got her side of the scoreboard moving.
The disappointing performance continued in the second set where she was broken twice as she ended the match 6-1 6-2 having made 38 unforced errors.
Konta seems to have lost her mojo and is experiencing a severe lack of confidence and will have to find answers especially if, as expected, she qualifies for the end-of-season Singapore extravaganza where she will face the likes of Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki who have already secured their places.
French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, in seventh place, also looks secure but Konta will have to look out for challenges from Sloane Stephens, CoCo Vandeweghe and Caroline Garcia who all have a slim chance of overtaking her f they win the title.
There are two more tournaments following Beijing and Konta is entered into both Hong Kong and Moscow but the points don’t match those currently available in China.