23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams admitted that she didn’t expect to lose her third round match at the Australian Open after crashing out in three sets on Friday.
The former world No.1 suffered a shock 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5, defeat to China’s Wang Qiang. A player who she dropped only 15 points against in their previous meeting last year at the US Open. Throughout the match Williams struggled for consistency on the court as she leaked a costly 56 unforced errors, which was more than double that of Wang.
“I was optimistic that I would be able to win. I thought, okay, now finish this off. I honestly didn’t think I was going to lose that match.” Williams said during her press conference.
“I just made far too many errors to be a professional athlete today.” She added.
Digesting her defeat afterwards, the world No.10 lambasted her own performance on the Rod Laver Arena. Going as far as describing it as ‘unprofessional.’ It is her earliest exit from a grand slam since the French Open back in June where she was defeated by Sofia Kenin.
“I didn’t return like Serena. Honestly, if we were just honest with ourselves, it’s all on my shoulders. I lost that match. So it is what it is.” She said.
“I can’t play like that. Like, I literally can’t do that again. That’s unprofessional. It’s not cool.”
An early exit from Melbourne Park is an extremely rare occurrence for the American. The last time she failed to go beyond the third round of the tournament was more than a decade ago back in 2006. Overall, Williams has only failed to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open in three out of 18 appearances.
The loss extends Williams wait to try and match Margaret Court’s record for most grand slam singles title won. Since returning to the tour following the birth of her child, the 38-year-old has has lost in the final of four major tournaments. Including two last year. Nevertheless, Williams has vowed to continue her pursuit of winning grand slam No.24.
“I definitely do believe or I wouldn’t be on tour. I don’t play just to have fun.” Williams commented on chasing Court’s record.
“I seem to do well the last two slams of the year. I don’t know. I have won them all several times. Each one is definitely an opportunity for me to go out there and win.’”
“It’s not even about the slams, it’s about just me playing good tennis, and I didn’t do that today. That is more disappointing.” She added.
Williams’ latest defeat leaves the question about how many more attempts she will have at grand slam glory given her age. According to the WTA, she is the third oldest player to have a ranking. When asked if she will be returning to Melbourne in 12 months time, she sidestepped the question.
“I feel like I’m on the way up, so we’ll see. I don’t know. I’m not even thinking about anything, about not being here.” She replied.
Williams’ conqueror Wang will play Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the next round.
Petra Kvitova edges Jelena Ostapenko in three sets to secure her spot in Doha quarter finals
Petra Kvitova edged past Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 4-6 6-1 in two hours on a windy day in the Qatar Total Open in Doha. The Czech player advanced to the quarter finals for the fifth time in her six appearances at the Doha tournament.
Kvitova and Ostapenko were level at 3-3 in their six head-to-head matches. Ostapenko beat her Czech rival in their most recent clash in Miami 2018.
Ostapenko earned a break point after two double faults at the start of the opening set and converted her chance as Kvitova silced wide.
Kvitova broke back in the fourth game and held serve to take a 3-2 lead. The Czech player broke for the second time on the fifth deuce in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead after two double faults from Ostapenko. Kvitova won her fourth consecutive game from 2-2 with a break at love to win the first set 6-2.
Ostapenko saved three consecutive points from 0-40 down to hold her serve in the second game. A series of four consecutive games followed in the next games. Ostapenko broke in the ninth game for 5-4 earning a chance to serve for the set, but Kvitova broke straight back to draw level to 5-5. Ostapenko broke at love in the 11th game before closing out the second set 6-4 to force the match to the third set.
Kvitova raced out to a 4-0 lead, as she dropped four points. She saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game at deuce. The former Wimbledon champion sealed in her next service game to set up a second round match against either Karolina Pliskova or ons Jabeur.
Dayana Yastremska upsets Sofia Kenin in Doha
Dayana Yastremska edged this year’s Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-3 7-6 after 1 hour and 35 minutes. Yastremska hit 13 aces and saved four of the six break point chances she faced.
Yastremska saved a break point with two service winners, as she was serving at 1-1. The Ukrainian player earned a break point at love in the fourth game with a return winner to take a 3-1 lead. Yastremska consolidated the break with an ace for 4-1 and wrapped up the first set with another unreturned serve at 5-3.
Kenin got an early break to open up a 3-0 lead with a service winner. Yastremska held at 15 before breaking back with a return winner. The Ukrainian teenager hit a backhand down the line winner to draw level to 3-3. Yastremska earned another break in the seventh game and won four consecutive games. Kenin broke back, as Yastremska double faulted while she was serving for the win at 5-4. Both players held serve in the 11th and 12th games to set up a tie-break.
Yastremska earned a mini-break to take a 4-1 lead and earned four match points at 6-2. She converted her third chance to set up a third round match against 2020 Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza.
Kenin beat Anastasija Sevastova in her first match since her triumph at the Australian Open, but she lost to Jelena Ostapenko at the Fed Cup Qualifier. The US player lost to Elena Rybakina in Dubai and to Dayana Yastremska in Doha.
“It’s really frustrating. Obviously coming off of Melbourne where I felt I was playing the best tennis of my life coming down to playing, not the worst tennis, but not playing the tennis I want to be playing. Yastremska played really well. I just feel like I can’t find my game, I am not playing the way to be playing, so it’s pretty frustrating right now. Credits to her, she played well with some good shots at those moments. She just played better at important at important moments and I just made too many unforced errors”, said Kenin.
Elena Rybakina and Belinda Bencic take hard-fought wins to reach the third round in Doha
Elena Rybakina saved a match point to beat Alison Van Uytvanck 5-7 6-2 7-6 (10-8) to secure a hard-fought 5-7 6-2 7-6 (10-8) win over Alison Van Uytvanck on his fifth match point after 2 hours and 21 minutes at the Qatar Total Open in Doha.
Both players went on serve in the first ten games with no breaks, before Van Uytvank earned her first break in the 11th game to win the first set 7-5.
Rybakina broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the second set 6-2 forcing the match to the third set. Van Uytvanck converted her third break point in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Rybakina broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Rybakina earned two match points at 5-4. Van Uytvanck saved two match points on her serve in the 10th game. Rybakina did not convert a match point after a double fault. Van Uytvanck failed to convert her own match point, before Rybakina won the final three points to advance to the third round, where she will face 2019 Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty.
Barty beat Rybakina in the third round at last January’s Australian Open.
Belinda Bencic recovered from missing a match point to beat Veronika Kudemertova 6-4 4-6 7-6 (8-6) after 2 hours and 38 minutes. Both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games. Bencic wrapped up the first set with a break in the 10th game.
Kudemertova earned an early break in the second set. Bencic pulled the break back on her third opportunity in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Kudemertova won the final two games with a break in the ninth game to seal the second set 6-4.
Bencic went down a break in the third game of the decider, but she broke back in the eight game to draw level to 4-4 and earned a match point in the 10th game. Kudemertova saved it and earned four break points on Bencic’s serve. Bencic saved them and forced the third set to the tie-break. Bencic won three consecutive points from 3-3 to earn three match points. The Swiss player closed it out on her third match point setting up a third round match against Yulia Putintseva.
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