Australian Open: Belinda Bencic beats Venus Williams

Hope Soto
January 16, 2018

Isner, the world No 16, who has rarely played well here, slumped to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 defeat against Australia's Matthew Ebden.

Her tone - even with a microphone in front of her - was barely audible.

Fifth seed and last year's finalist Venus Williams was pushed out of the Australian Open in the first round on Monday after losing to former top 10 player Belinda Bencic.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens takes on China's Zhang Shuai while American big-hitter CoCo Vandeweghe, a semi-finalist a year ago at Melbourne Park and Flushing Meadow, opens her account against Hungary's Timea Babos. She was outplayed in the tiebreaker and also in the third set, with Zhang winning, 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2. That means she will walk away with at least $90,000 for reaching the second round, a handy step up from her career prizemoney so far of just $8476. Also in action are seeds No. 3 Garbine Muguruza, No. 6 Karolina Pliskova, No. 17 Madison Keys, and No. 21 Angie Kerber. Like I said, this year, it's a new year, only the second tournament of the year. The reason: the difference between being in shape, and being in game shape.

Notably, the seven-time Grand Slam champion lost to her sister Serena Williams in 2017 Australian Open and emerged as the runner-up.

Sugita is ranked outside the world's top 40 but did earn his maiden ATP Tour title win previous year, shortly before his 29th birthday.

So Bencic's unseeded status didn't matter. And her ranking is an unfortunate illusion. "I would like to have played someone easier".

Williams won't soon forget this first loss to Bencic.

No. 13-seeded Stephens had a chance to serve for the match in the 10th game of the second set but dropped her serve.

"When I was a little girl watching on TV, I would never imagine I would play them". It's really tough to play her. "But I have learned to just not panic".

The roofs were also closed at Margaret Court Arena and Hisense Arena, forcing play to be suspended for about 15 minutes at each stadium.

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" Yeah, obviously just happy to be back playing".

Venus Williams' exit followed Stephens' 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 loss to Zhang Shuai.

While many saw the opening round draw against Williams as unfortunate, Bencic has proven everyone wrong. I think she started out with an ace, another victor. "Just not the best luck in terms of, you know, a quick start".

It's true Williams got a bad draw.

BC-TEN-Australian Open, 7th Ld-Writethru, 866 Bleak day for Americans in Melbourne: Venus, Stephens outAP Photo MEL212, MEL228, MEL196, MEL173, MEL468, MEL293, MEL191, MEL383, MEL472Eds: Updates to clarify that Sock and Isner are two of the highest-ranked USA men; adds Peng Shuai losing. Interestingly, she had made her WTA tour debut against Williams as a 14-year-old in Luxembourg in 2012.

The man Nadal lost to in last year's gripping men's finale, Federer, begins his quest for a 20th major Tuesday against Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene. This is, like, a new year.

For that, she can blame her sister. I've been playing that level now for a while. I think that's taken a toll. "It was a hard five months. She just played awesome".

Don't take this as a knock against Williams. Serena, 36, became the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam tournament in the Open era and did it while she was pregnant - so how important is age, especially in a game that does not involve body contact? With wrist surgery now behind her, there is so much still ahead.

Australian Open 2018 When is it on? The game has, indeed, changed.

Head-to-toe, Venus Williams definitely looked the part. "Head to toe so player".

But there was very little magic.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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