Saturday, 17 November, 2018


Stephens falls out of Australian Open

Venus Williams Venus Williams matches Australian Open Belinda Bencic Australian Open schedule sports news tennis Indian Express Venus Williams continued her late-career flourish at Melbourne Park last year
Noah Ferguson | 15 January, 2018, 13:05

Venus Williams of the U.S. reacts after a point against Switzerland's Belinda Bencic during their women's singles first round match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 15, 2018.

With Serena skipping the tournament because the record 23-time grand slam victor isn't yet ready to return to tournament play four months after giving birth to a first child, it means no Williams sister in the second round of a major - a rarity.

"I'm so happy to play on this court and play a great player". "She just played above and beyond", said seven-time major victor Venus Williams, who was playing her 18th Australian Open. She's given me some medication.

'A couple of racquets are broken every match, this time it was I believe a time violation, but I'm not sure. "Just didn't work out". Williams had 26 unforced errors and 22 winners.

Bencic credited playing with Roger Federer at the Hopman Cup - where they teamed up to win for Switzerland - with helping her recent improvement.

"I was thinking a lot about the last matches. For the first matches, I think I had a little bit too much respect, played a little bit careful and safe", Bencic said. "This time I really tried to come out and hit it big".

Thirteenth seed Stephens extended her sorry losing streak since winning at Flushing Meadows in September to eight matches against the 34th-ranked Chinese number two, a surprise quarter-finalist in Melbourne two years ago.

U.S. Open finalist Keven Anderson became the first seed to lose on the men's side.

Heading into the opener, Pam Shriver described Stephens' slump from her U.S. Open triumph to being horribly out of form as "the most curious six months in the history of a professional tennis player". "But I have learned to just not panic".

Stephens served for the match in the 10th game of the second set but dropped her serve.

Ostapenko saved two break points in the third game of the opening set and clinched the set with an ace.

Isner was sent packing in four sets by unfancied local Matthew Ebden at the Margaret Court Arena while Sock slipped to a 6-1, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3 defeat to 41st-ranked Yuichi Sugita on Show Court Two.

The American lost 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 in one hour and 58 minutes in Melbourne.

Veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber began his campaign seeded 28th with a match against Japan's 22-year-old Yoshihito Nishioka. After already saving five break points at 4-3, Bencic returned from an nearly 30-minute suspension to win six consecutive points and the first set. "She's very experienced player and she's very long time on tour", said the Latvian. "I did the best that I could. that's all I can ask for".

Also into the next round with a straight sets win was German 12th seed Julia Goerges, who won the lead-up Auckland Classic and is now on a 15-match unbeaten streak having ended 2017 with victories at Moscow and Zhuhai.

French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko made a positive start with a 6-1, 6-4 win over 37-year-old Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open victor, and No. 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Kateryna Kozlova.

Among other seeded players falling: No. 24 Dominika Cibulkova, a 2014 Australian Open finalist who lost to Kaia Kanepi, and No. 31 Ekaterina Makarova, who lost 3-6, 6-4, 8-6 to Irina-Camelia Begu.

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