Australian Open 2018: Switzerland's Belinda Bencic upsets Venus Williams in first round

Australian Open first round preview Venus Williams vs Belinda Bencic

It was a flawless start from the world No. 1, who is playing the Australian Open for the first time without competing at a warmup tournament.

Even without Serena Williams, four American women reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open past year, but after Monday's collective stumbles, the only one of those four women still in the singles tournament here is Madison Keys, who will play her first-round match on Tuesday.

Venus Williams of the US v Belinda Bencic of Switzerland - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 15, 2018. She was defeated in Melbourne a year ago by her sister Serena Williams, who was two months pregnant at the time.

The Australian Open will be without a Williams sister in the second round for the first time since 1997 after Venus was sent packing by a Roger Federer-inspired Belinda Bencic Monday.

"I think I've improved everything", she said on her resurgence. "After the injury and the tough times it's really an unbelievable feeling", she said.

"I didn't play so bad, I wasn't missing every shot". Williams had 26 unforced errors and 22 winners.

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But at 6-5 in the final set Bencic seized her opportunity, watched from her players' box by Federer's parents.

Stephens came back from a long-term injury to record her US Open victory but has struggled since with form and fitness. For the first matches, I think I had a little bit too much respect, played a little bit careful and safe. "That feels great. I saw him after the match. he was very happy for me". Also gone: U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens (the 13th seed) and 10th-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe.

The world No. 78 was unfazed by taking on the seven-time Grand Slam champion at Melbourne Park and kept the American at arm's length throughout to storm into round two with a 6-3 7-5 success.

With defending champion Serena Williams absent following the birth of her first child, it is only the third time in 20 years that neither Williams sister has reached the second round at a Grand Slam. "I'm just going to enjoy that, see where it takes me". "It will be OK".

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.

But Zhang would not lie down and gradually got herself on top, winning the second set on a tiebreak for the loss of only two points.

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American Ryan Harrison was among the men advancing, beating Dudi Sela in five sets to set up a match a gainst No. 10 Pablo CarreƱo Busta. Williams, however, resurged after a brief washroom break and broke Bencic's opening service game.

In the men's draw, Britain's Kyle Edmund got the better of 2017 US Open finalist, Kevin Anderson, in a grueling five-setter.

The Bulgarian third seed, a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park a year ago, barely got out of first gear as he displayed his considerable range of skills to oust his Austrian opponent in just 98 minutes on Rod Laver Arena. A ferocious backhand victor helped her get to match point on the Williams serve and she then secured a famous victory, with a little help from the Federer playbook.

Vandeweghe was leading in her first set before the rain delay on Hisense Arena, but sickness and irritation caught up with her. "It's a positive start with a good result".

"Last year was last year", Venus Williams said after her loss.

Last year's US Open final was an American dream featuring Serena and Venus Williams.

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Other seeded players falling included No. 24 Dominika Cibulkova, the 2014 Australian Open finalist who lost to Kaia Kanepi, No. 25 Peng Shuai and No. 31 Ekaterina Makarova.


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