Sharapova took advice from her coach Michael Joyce but could not avoid defeat
Former world number ones Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova made early exits at the Madrid Open on Sunday.
Sharapova suffered a 6-4 6-3 defeat by Lucie Safarova in her first match since March following an elbow injury.
And there was an even bigger shock when Belgium's Henin, who won her last tournament in Stuttgart, lost 6-4 5-7 6-0 to Aravane Rezai of France.
Venus Williams began her campaign at the Caja Madrid with a 6-4 6-2 win over Stefanie Voegele.
Sharapova, seeded 11th, recovered from losing the opening four games to level at 4-4 against Safarova, but the Czech - who made recent quarter-finals in Stuttgart and Rome - took eight of the next 10 games for victory.
I hope I will get better in a few days and get ready for the French Open now
"It's a struggle trying to find the rhythm," said Sharapova. "I thought she played really solid, good tennis and did everything she needed to win the match. More solid than me anyway.
"I certainly had my chances in the match and a few balls here and there that I maybe would have made if I had the matches under my belt."
Henin revealed that she had been suffering from sickness since winning in Germany and was not at 100%.
"When I came back from Stuttgart, I wasn't feeling well at all," said the four-times French Open champion.
"I just tried to come and see how I felt but to practise and play a match is a different story.
"Madrid has been a difficult experience this year and I hope that next year will be better."
And Henin added: "She was at a very good level and I was probably below my capacity and it wasn't an easy day.
"I hope I will get better in a few days and get ready for the French Open now."
In other first-round matches there were straightforward wins for 15th seed Francesca Schiavone and ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, while Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-4 7-6 (7-2).
In the men's event, ninth seed David Ferrer beat Jeremy Chardy 6-3 7-6 (7-2), and Ivo Karlovic and Juan Monaco also made progress.