NEW YORK (AFP) - Romanian teenager Simona Halep stunned French Open champion Li Na 6-2, 7-5 in the first round of the US Open tennis championships.
Since that triumph, Li has become a heroine in her homeland, but she has struggled on the court, losing in the second round at Wimbledon to eventual semi-finalist Sabine Lisicki.
Her run to the semi-finals at New Haven last week marked the only time she has put back-to-back match wins together since Roland Garros.
"I really wanted to do well after Roland Garros," she said. "But it's not easy to do. Now I lose all the confidence on the court.
"I was feeling, 'Oh, tennis is just too tough for me.'"
It's a far cry from the confident face that Li presented earlier this year, when she reached the final of the Australian Open, then made her breakthrough triumph with victory over defending French Open champion Francesca Schiavone.
Now, Li said, she feels she's playing with a target on her back, with other players raising their level when they face her.
"Because after they beat you, they think, 'Oh, I beat a Grand Slam champion,'" she said..
Li's exit leaves the women's field without all three of this year's Grand Slam champions.
Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters, winner of the last two US Open titles, is absent with a stomach muscle injury. Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova lost on Monday, falling to another Romanian, Alexandra Dulgheru.