Sports Tennis 15 Jan 2018 Australian Open 2018 ...

Australian Open 2018: 5th seed Venus Williams dumped out by Belinda Bencic

AFP
Published Jan 15, 2018, 10:30 am IST
Updated Jan 15, 2018, 10:30 am IST
The fifth seed and last year's finalist was shocked 6-3, 7-5 in the first round by the world number 78
Venus Williams means for the first time since 1997 there will be no Williams sister in the second round at Melbourne Park after Serena pulled out following the birth of her daughter. (Photo:AP)
 Venus Williams means for the first time since 1997 there will be no Williams sister in the second round at Melbourne Park after Serena pulled out following the birth of her daughter. (Photo:AP)

Melbourne: Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams was knocked out of the Australian Open in straights sets by Swiss 20-year-old Belinda Bencic on Monday.

The fifth seed and last year's finalist was shocked 6-3, 7-5 in the first round by the world number 78 in just under two hours on Rod Laver Arena.

 

It means for the first time since 1997 there will be no Williams sister in the second round at Melbourne Park after Serena pulled out following the birth of her daughter.

The last time it happened Steffi Graf was world number one and Bencic was still two months away from being born.

Bencic, who lost to Serena in straights sets at the same stage last year, said when she saw the draw she was prepared for another tough opener.

"I would like to have played someone easier," she admitted. "When I was a little girl watching on TV I would never imagine I would play them."

 

There was no sign of the drama to come until the seventh game when former world number seven Bencic, in form again after winning the Hopman Cup warm-up team event in Perth alongside Roger Federer, broke the Williams serve.

She then had to hold off an immediate fightback from the veteran American, saving five break points in an attritional game before a passing rain shower caused a 20-minute delay as the roof on Rod Laver Arena was closed.

They resumed with Bencic serving at deuce and the Swiss then crucially reeled off the next two points for 5-3 before breaking Williams again to take the opener 6-3.

 

Williams departed for a bathroom break and, seemingly refreshed, struck back at the start of the second, breaking Bencic's opening service game.

But the Swiss was not to be denied and put the pressure back on the Williams serve and levelled on her third break point.

Bencic, who made her WTA Tour debut as a 14-year-old against Williams in Luxembourg in 2012, had never beaten the seven-time Grand Slam winner in four previous meetings.

And deep into the second set Williams was coming under constant pressure on her serve and, serving at 3-4 and 15-40, needing all her experience to reel off four points in row to level again.

 

But Bencic was not to be denied, coming from 0-30 on the Williams serve at 6-5 with the help of a ferocious backhand winner to get to match point and secured a famous victory.

CoCo Vandeweghe crashes out in first round

Tenth seed and last year's semi-finalist CoCo Vandeweghe was sent packing from the Australian Open in the first round Monday on a horror day for American women.

Vendeweghe, who also made the last four at the US Open in 2017, was knocked out by Hungary's Timea Babos 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.

She was the third American big name to fall on day one of the year's opening Grand Slam.

 

Joining her on the sidelines was seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, who lost to Belinda Bencic, and US Open Champion Sloane Stephens, who was defeated by Zhang Shuai of China.

Hungarian world number 51 Babos took just an hour an 46 minutes to oust a tetchy Vandeweghe, who complained to the umpire after dropping the first set about a lack of bananas on the Hisense Arena court.

Coached by former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, the American committed 28 unforced errors.

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