Belinda Bencic upsets Venus Williams in first round at Australian Open

In her first match at the Australian Open since a Williams sister was guaranteed to win the title, Venus Williams lost in the first round to Belinda Bencic and ensured it can not happen in 2018.

The 6-3, 7-5 loss for Venus Williams was her first in five career meetings with Bencic, who lost to Serena Williams in the first round here previous year.

In-form Swiss Belinda Bencic has sent Venus Williams crashing out of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.

Sloane Stephens' woes since her winning her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open continued Monday with a first-round loss at the Australian Open.

"I think all the week it was so great learning from him on the court or off the court", she said of her victorious week in Perth with the world number two. "I don't think I would be near that when I'm 37".

"It's not tough times, eventually I'll start [to win]", said the 24-year-old. The 27-year-old Dane, who last topped the world rankings six years ago, beat Romania's Michaela Buzarnescu 6-2, 6-3. "I lost to Venus four times and I tried my best to give my all today, and changed some things tactically", Belinda who is now running high on 16 tour matches winning streak gushed.

Stephens didn't play last year's Australian Open because of a left foot injury that kept her out of action until Wimbledon.

"She's a tough player", said Zhang, who has happy memories of Margaret Court Arena - Zhang reached the last eight there after coming through three qualifying rounds two years ago.

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Venus battled to keep touch in an enthralling second set but the clean hitting and younger legs of Bencic carried away the match in the 12th game. She won the Kremlin Cup in Russian Federation in October, the WTA Elite Trophy in China in November and the Auckland Open in New Zealand earlier this month taking her world ranking up to No. 12.

Third seed Grigor Dimitrov and American eighth seed Jack Sock are also due on court with Melbourne's notoriously fickle weather set to dish up a cool and cloudy day with the chance of showers.

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

"Then on court, he's so focused". I can appreciate it more. "Just give me a little bit to regroup and we will be okay".

"I think I was thinking a lot about the last matches". 'Last year is last year.

U.S. Open champion Stephens was the first American to fall, losing 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 to No. 34-ranked Zhang Shuai. I don't have to make myself uncomfortable because [the tournament is] ill prepared.

Vandeweghe was leading in her first set before a rain delay on Hisense Arena, and Timea Babos rallied to win 7-6 (4), 6-2.

Schiavone has never really been a star - she is best known for denying Australia's Sam Stosur the French Open in 2010 and, perhaps by way of revenge by the Australian tennis gods, this was her fifth successive failure to win a match in Melbourne - but Williams, of course, brings much more to the table in terms of reputation and accomplishment as well as a perennial popularity so it is never a matter for celebration when she is made to look ordinary.

  • Lawrence Cooper