Serena Williams suffered a shock loss to Wang Qiang in the Australian Open third round on Friday.

The American star made her earliest exit in Melbourne since 2006 with a stunning 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5 defeat to Chinese 27th seed Wang on Rod Laver Arena.

Williams' bid to match Margaret Court on a record 24 grand slam singles titles will have to wait a little longer after her error-riddled display.

A seven-time Australian Open champion, Williams lost before the fourth round at the tournament for just the fourth time in her illustrious career.

Wang, meanwhile, was impressive throughout, settling early and rebounding in the third set to close out victory in two hours, 41 minutes.

Wang – crushed 6-1 6-0 when the pair met at the US Open last year – quickly settled despite Williams' pressure and saved three break points during a lengthy sixth game.

Williams looked the more likely to find a break before Wang did just that with a forehand winner to take a 5-4 lead.

A long backhand return saw Wang serve out the opening set to 15, stunning Williams.

Williams fell into a 0-40 hole in the fifth game of the second set and Wang delivered a forehand winner to take a 3-2 lead.

Struggling to find her range, Williams saved a break point in the seventh game before squandering one in the eighth.

But Williams stepped up when Wang served for the match, breaking back to 15 with a ripping forehand cross-court winner.

Williams fought back from 15-40 down in the following game before delivering in what was a tense tie-break to force a deciding set.

Wang stayed with Williams despite the second-set disappointment as they held serve, the former squandering two match points with nervous errors in the 12th game.

But she took her third chance when Williams sent a backhand into the net to fall to a stunning defeat.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Wang Qiang [27] bt Serena Williams [8] 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 
Wang – 25/20
Williams – 43/56

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 
Wang – 2/1
Williams – 8/4

BREAK POINTS WON 
Wang – 3/12
Williams – 1/6

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE 
Wang – 63
Williams – 56

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE 
Wang – 69/60
Williams – 70/50

TOTAL POINTS 
Wang – 121
Williams – 111

Caroline Wozniacki's professional career came to an end with a third-round loss to Ons Jabeur at the Australian Open on Friday.

The 2018 champion announced last month she would retire at the end of the year's opening grand slam, and her run in Melbourne came to an end in the first week.

Wozniacki went down to Jabeur 7-5 3-6 7-5 on Melbourne Arena, bringing an end to her career after a second third-round exit in as many years.

The former world number one typically fought hard before falling short against Jabeur in two hours, seven minutes.

Wozniacki came from 3-0 down in the final set but was broken in the 12th game by her Tunisian opponent.

The 29-year-old shed some tears after the curtain was brought down on a fine career.

Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber claimed comfortable second-round wins at the Australian Open as Garbine Muguruza survived a scare on Thursday.

It was a good day for the women's seeds at Melbourne Park, as 10 of the 12 in action moved into the third round.

Halep, Pliskova and Kerber were among them, while the unseeded Muguruza also progressed.

The top 10 seeds remain alive in the women's draw, with a few familiar faces shaping as contenders once more.

 

HALEP, PLISKOVA AND KERBER PROGRESS

A runner-up in Melbourne in 2018, fourth seed Halep was largely untroubled in a 6-2 6-4 win over British qualifier Harriet Dart.

The Romanian managed five breaks of serve and will meet Yulia Putintseva, who edged last year's semi-finalist Danielle Collins, scoring a 6-4 2-6 7-5 win against the 26th seed.

Pliskova has reached at least the quarter-finals at the past three Australian Opens and the Czech second seed looks like a challenger.

She had few problems in a 6-3 6-3 victory over Laura Siegemund on Rod Laver Arena.

Pliskova will next face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after the Russian 30th seed battled past Taylor Townsend 7-5 7-6 (7-1).

Kerber, the 2016 champion, was untroubled by Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon in a 6-3 6-2 win.

MUGURUZA FIGHTS THROUGH

Two-time grand slam champion Muguruza was pushed in a 6-3 3-6 6-3 win over Ajla Tomljanovic.

Muguruza mixed 34 winners with 39 unforced errors, but an even bigger test awaits in the third round.

FIfth seed Elina Svitolina set up a meeting with Muguruza by overcoming American Lauren Davis 6-2 7-6 (8-6).

That late-night clash on Margaret Court Arena became dramatic in the second set as Svitolina failed to seize a chance to serve for the match, Davis forcing the tense tie-break.

 

BENCIC, VEKIC CONTINUE RUNS

Coming off a semi-final appearance at the US Open last year, Belinda Bencic overcame former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko 7-5 7-5.

The Swiss star will meet Anett Kontaveit, who recorded a 6-2 4-6 6-1 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Donna Vekic, the 19th seed, has cruised through her opening two matches after brushing past Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2.

Meanwhile, Dutch ninth seed Kiki Bertens was too good for Australian wildcard Arina Rodionova 6-3 7-5.

Karolina Muchova, the 20th-seeded Czech, was well beaten by CiCi Bellis 6-4 6-4.

Twenty-year-old American Bellis is playing her first grand slam in two years after injury kept her out of action for 18 months.

The prospect of equalling the women's singles grand slam record grows with each passing match as Serena Williams looks ahead to Friday's Australian Open third-round clash with Qiang Wang.

Williams - stuck on 23 major championships since winning the Australian Open in 2017 - trails Margaret Court's 24-trophy tally.

It has been a long time coming for Williams as the anticipation builds at Melbourne Park, where the 38-year-old American superstar is yet to drop a set this week.

We take a closer look at Williams' form ahead of the seven-time Australian Open champion's meeting with Wang.

 

Form and results

In her own words, it was not perfect but Williams did what she had to do en route to the third round. Celebrating her 400th slam singles match and 351st victory, Williams was untidy as she hit 28 unforced errors against Tamara Zidansek - who only tallied 13 in the straight-sets loss. She has looked comfortable so far in Melbourne, but the American great will have to improve as the tournament progresses.

R1: bt Potapova 6-0 6-3
R2: bt Zidansek 6-2 6-3

Next up

Wang - the 27th seed - is back in the Australian Open third round for the second successive year. The 28-year-old blitzed Fiona Ferro 6-1 6-2 on Wednesday. Wang, who enjoyed a breakout 2018 season with two WTA titles, was steamrolled by Williams in the US Open quarter-finals last year. She did, however, benefit from a walkover at the Miami Masters.

Draw

It is a tantalising draw in Melbourne, but maybe not for Williams. A clash with good friend Caroline Wozniacki, who will retire at the end of this tournament, looms in the fourth round. Meanwhile, a quarter-final showdown with either defending champion Naomi Osaka or 15-year-old American sensation Coco Gauff could await.

What she said

"It's always a goal for me to make the Championships. That's always my goal, the slams and the Championships. Those are something that's super important for me."

Ash Barty and Serena Williams moved through at the Australian Open as Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff set up a third-round showdown.

Home favourite and world number one Barty was untroubled on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday, continuing her run in Melbourne.

Williams was below her best but still advanced during the night session as her bid for a record-equalling 24th grand slam title continued.

There is also the prospect of a mouthwatering showdown between two of the game's leading lights on Friday.

 

BARTY, SERENA UNTROUBLED

Barty brushed past Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-1 6-4 in just 66 minutes on the back of a consistent performance.

The Australian mixed 16 winners – nine of those from the forehand side – with 16 unforced errors, setting up a clash with Kazakh 29th seed Elena Rybakina.

Williams was left frustrated during the second set of her 6-2 6-3 victory over Tamara Zidansek.

The American star was pushed before advancing in one hour, 18 minutes, having committed 28 unforced errors, including 17 in the second set.

Next up for Williams is Wang Qiang, the Chinese 27th seed having rushed past Fiona Ferro 6-1 6-2.

 

OSAKA, GAUFF SET UP BLOCKBUSTER CLASH

Osaka's title defence stayed alive with a 6-2 6-4 victory over China's Zheng Saisai.

The Japanese third seed faces her biggest test yet in the third round, where Gauff awaits after the teenager's comeback win.

Gauff looked set for an exit, trailing Sorana Cirstea 3-0 in the final set.

But the 15-year-old fought back to claim a 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory and reach the third round at a grand slam for the third straight time.

Osaka crushed Gauff 6-3 6-0 when the pair met at last year's US Open.

 

WOZNIACKI STAYS ALIVE AS KVITOVA, KEYS ADVANCE

Caroline Wozniacki stretched her professional career for at least another match by beating Ukrainian 23rd seed Dayana Yastremska 7-5 7-5.

The 2018 Australian Open champion, who is retiring at the end of the tournament, came from 5-1 down in the first set and 3-0 behind in the second.

Last year's runner-up, Petra Kvitova, was tested in a 7-5 7-5 victory over Spain's Paula Badosa while Madison Keys also had moments of concern in her 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 win over Arantxa Rus.

Petra Martic (13) and Aryna Sabalenka (11) were among the seeds to fall, with the latter beaten by Carla Suarez Navarro in their opening-round clash.

Serena Williams said she had to adjust to accept imperfection during her second-round win over Tamara Zidansek at the Australian Open.

The 23-time grand slam champion looked in strong form early before having to battle during the second set of a 6-2 6-3 win on Wednesday.

Williams looked frustrated during the second set, when she committed 17 of her 28 unforced errors, before celebrating her 400th grand slam singles match with a win.

The American, 38, said it was an opportunity to accept she would encounter different challenges during matches in Melbourne.

"I was making a lot of errors. Definitely probably the most errors I've made since the start of the year," Williams told a news conference.

"So, just having to say, 'Okay, not every match is going to be perfect', how to work through that. I hadn't done that since September.

"It was just kind of working through that and getting through that."

Williams was glad to find the answers against Zidansek, who stayed in the second set until the seventh game.

"It [the internal dialogue] is definitely pretty deep. It has to be motivating but also realistic," she said.

"Sometimes you just miss some shots, you don't know why. Just trying to find an answer. That's what I kept doing.

"Thankfully I was able to find an answer in the middle, right in the middle of the second set."

Williams will face Chinese 27th seed Wang Qiang in the third round.

Serena Williams celebrated her 400th grand slam singles match with a straight-sets win over Tamara Zidansek at the Australian Open.

Williams was forced into a battle in the second set on Rod Laver Arena before getting past Zidansek 6-2 6-3 in the second round on Wednesday.

The American remains on track in her bid to match Margaret Court on a record 24 grand slam singles titles despite an untidy display.

Williams secured her 351st grand slam singles match win in one hour, 18 minutes, moving into a third-round meeting with Chinese 27th seed Wang Qiang.

After Williams made a fast start – breaking in the opening game when Zidansek sent a forehand wide – and led 2-0, the Slovenian got on the board.

However, Williams quickly took command, racing into a 5-1 lead as her power overwhelmed Zidansek.

Williams clinched the opening set in 31 minutes, with Zidansek rarely able to match her from the baseline.

But Zidansek improved to begin the second set as Williams' level dropped, battling from 0-40 down to hold for a 3-2 lead.

Williams was growing increasingly frustrated and had to save three break points in the sixth game as the roof was closed due to rain.

Zidansek would be punished for those missed chances, Williams breaking to love in the next game on her way to a straight-sets win.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Serena Williams [8] bt Tamara Zidansek 6-2 6-3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 25/28
Zidansek – 11/13

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 7/0
Zidansek – 0/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 4/14
Zidansek – 0/4

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Williams – 61
Zidansek – 57

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Williams – 78/46
Zidansek – 53/46

TOTAL POINTS
Williams – 68
Zidansek – 49

Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka corrected an on-court interviewer over a mistake about the WTA's number one ranking. 

Osaka's title defence continued with a 6-2 6-4 win over Saisai Zheng in the second round at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.

Seeded third for this year's opening grand slam but ranked fourth in the world, Osaka was dethroned as the WTA's number one by Ash Barty following the US Open.

When it was put to her that she could return to the top of the rankings with back-to-back Australian Open titles, Osaka - who has points to defend - looked on quizzically.

"Get through where to be number one in the world?," the confused Japanese star replied to the interviewer.

Top seed Barty has 8,017 points, well ahead of Osaka's 5,496.

Pressed again on the possibility of returning to the summit, Osaka said: "Oh really?

"No I thought because Ash [Barty] is like 2,000 points ahead of me and I have to defend this, that I'm going to drop out of the top 10 for real. OK that's good news for me... I guess."

Osaka overcame warm but breezy conditions to advance to the third round of the slam in Melbourne, not before her frustrations spilled over in the second set.

After dropping serve, Osaka dropped her racquet and kicked it before storming through to the next round.

"I definitely got very frustrated in the second set, and it's something that I knew would happen, but I didn't know the scale, like, what she would do to make me frustrated," Osaka told reporters in her post-match news conference.

"I think that I just really have to focus on knowing that I'm going to have really tough matches and I have to find a way to go around it and just be consistently level-headed."

Osaka added: "She was slicing and dicing and getting everything. I was, like, 'Can I just hit a winner already?' She was, like, 'No, I'm going to get everything'. That's basically what happened."

Caroline Wozniacki prolonged her career by at least another match after rallying past 23rd seed Dayana Yastremska 7-5 7-5 in the second round on Wednesday.  

Wozniacki will retire after the Australian Open and the 2018 champion faced the prospect of going out against the red-hot Yastremska, who raced out to a 5-1 lead in the opening set.

Yastremska was in control before former world number one Wozniacki reeled off six successive games to steal the set on Margaret Court Arena.

Wozniacki was also down a double break and 3-0 at the start of the second set before weathering another storm at Melbourne Park.

Having lost momentum, Yastremska called for a medical timeout and it seemed to help as the Ukrainian saved three match points to hold for 5-5.

But 29-year-old Danish star Wozniacki was not to be denied, ensuring her farewell party carried through to the third round after more than two hours on court.

Defending champion Naomi Osaka sailed into the third round of the Australian Open with a straight-sets win over Saisai Zheng. 

In warm but breezy conditions in Melbourne, third seed Osaka defeated China's Zheng 6-2 6-4 on Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday.

Japanese star Osaka will next face either teenage sensation Coco Gauff or Sorana Cirstea at Melbourne Park.

Osaka made a strong start in front of a healthy Japanese contingent, breaking in the second game for a 2-0 lead, only to be broken back immediately after firing a forehand long.

Zheng managed to get back on serve, however, consecutive double faults handed the break back to Osaka, whose power and precision helped wrap up the set in 34 minutes.

Osaka fended off two break points in the opening game of the second set, but Zheng continued to have her chances on the two-time grand slam champion's serve.

Zheng, who also saved a break point to hold for 1-1, finally broke at the fifth time of asking as she moved ahead 2-1.

The disciplined approach from Zheng frustrated Osaka, who threw and kicked her racquet before claiming the break back instantly. The pair traded breaks as Osaka's unforced errors grew, until the latter composed herself to see out the match after one hour, 20 minutes.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Naomi Osaka [3] bt Saisai Zheng 6-2 6-4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Osaka – 20/30
Zheng – 7/20

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Osaka – 0/2
Zheng – 0/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Osaka – 6/12
Zheng – 3/7

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Osaka – 59
Zheng – 68

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Osaka – 63/50
Zheng – 50/29

TOTAL POINTS
Osaka – 61
Zheng – 46

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova came through their first-round matches at the Australian Open, as Maria Sharapova suffered an early exit in the women's singles.

Fourth seed Halep was handed a testing opener against Jennifer Brady, who had beaten Ash Barty at the Brisbane International this month.

But the Romanian prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 in one hour and 36 minutes to join home hope Barty, defending champion Naomi Osaka and tournament favourite Serena Williams in round two.

An up-and-down first set was crucial, as Halep twice recovered from a break down and saved three set points while Brady was serving at 6-5.

Halep found a way to force a tie-break and then edged it 7-5 before running away with the contest in the second set.

Wimbledon champion Halep also had to overcome a first-set fall that required the trainer to check on her wrist and joked she had also stumbled in her first match of the 2018 tournament, when she made it all the way to the final.

"In 2018 it was the same, probably I can repeat that!" said Halep.

"I don't know why in the first round always I fall down. Maybe it's a good sign but it's too far to think about that.

"My wrist is pretty painful. I need to chill and recover for the second round."

Second seed Pliskova earned a 6-1 7-5 victory over Kristina Mladenovic, losing serve just once in the 87-minute battle. The Czech faces Laura Siegemund next, while Halep will take on Harriet Dart.


TOP 10 ALL THROUGH AS SHARAPOVA'S WOES CONTINUE

Sharapova suffered her third consecutive loss in the first round of a grand slam following a 6-3 6-4 defeat against 19th seed Donna Vekic as the former world number one hit 31 unforced errors.

A first-round casualty at Wimbledon and the US Open, Sharapova - who has been struggling for form and fitness - crashed out in the first round of the Australian Open for the first time since 2010.

Sixth seed Belinda Bencic won 6-3 7-5 against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, while Madison Keys was a 6-3 6-1 victor against Daria Kasatkina, as all of the top 10 seeds moved safely into round two.

Elina Svitolina claimed a 6-4 7-5 victory in her match against Katie Boulter, while former grand slam champions Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza were winners against Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Shelby Rogers respectively. Muguruza won by an unusual 0-6 6-1 6-0 scoreline.


KONTA AND VONDROUSOVA BOW OUT

Johanna Konta, Marketa Vondrousova, Amanda Anisimova and Anastasija Sevastova were the seeds to fall on day two.

An Australian Open semi-finalist in 2016, British 12th seed Konta suffered a 6-4 6-2 loss to Ons Jabeur.

On the comeback trail following a tendinitis-related problem in her right knee, which forced her to withdraw from Brisbane and Adelaide, Konta was only making her second appearance since losing in the US Open quarter-finals last year.

Konta said: "Ultimately the main thing was to start playing again, and I am. How I physically felt out there is obviously a massive tick for me compared to where I was in September. Before Brisbane I had been out for almost four-and-a-half months."

Czech Vondrousova, the 15th seed and French Open finalist last year, lost in three sets to Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Another rising star fell as 18-year-old American Anisimova lost out in a final set to Zarina Diyas, while home hope Ajla Tomljanovic emphatically accounted for Sevastova with a 6-1 6-1 triumph to book a round-two meeting with Muguruza.

Has the Australian Open seen the last of Maria Sharapova? The 2008 champion is not sure following her first-round exit on Tuesday. 

Sharapova crashed out in the opening round of the Australian Open for the first time since 2010 after going down 6-3 6-4 to 19th seed Donna Vekic in Melbourne.

A five-time grand slam champion, Sharapova has struggled for form and fitness following just 15 appearances in 2019 as her stunning fall from grace since a 15-month drugs ban - which expired in 2017 - continued.

Former world number one Sharapova suffered her third consecutive loss in the opening round of a slam after early exits at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Asked whether the prospect of not returning to the Australian Open has crossed her mind, Sharapova told reporters: "I don't know. I don't know. I was fortunate to get myself to be here and thankful to [Tennis Australia CEO] Craig [Tiley] and the team allowing me to be part of this event. It's tough for me to tell what's going to happen in 12 months' time."

Sharapova's season was interrupted by injuries last year, with the 32-year-old Russian star posting an 8-7 win-loss record.

Question marks over Sharapova's future are set to intensify as the world number 145 – who received a wildcard for this year's event – is projected to drop outside of the WTA's top 350.

"I would like to," Sharapova said when asked if her body is capable of holding up to feature in more tournaments. "I don't know. I don't have a crystal ball to tell you if I can or if I will, but I would love to, yeah."

Sharapova added: "It's tough to say I'm on the right track right now 45 minutes after the match. But, I mean, there is no way to get out of it except to keep believing in yourself, because if you do do all the right things and you don't believe in yourself, then that's probably a bad formula."

Maria Sharapova is in the midst of the worst grand slam losing streak of her illustrious career after the former world number one crashed out at the Australian Open. 

Sharapova suffered her third consecutive loss in the opening round of a slam following Tuesday's 6-3 6-4 defeat to 19th seed Donna Vekic in Melbourne, where she committed 31 unforced errors.

A first-round casualty at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, five-time major champion Sharapova was ousted in one hour, 21 minutes in sunny conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

It is the first time in a decade that Russian star and 2008 winner Sharapova has fallen at the first hurdle of the Australian Open.

Sharapova – who last won a slam via the 2014 French Open – lost to countrywoman Maria Kirilenko in three sets in 2010.

The 32-year-old has been struggling for form and fitness after a first-round exit prior to the Australian Open in Brisbane.

Sharapova only played 15 matches last season due to injuries, finishing with an 8-7 record as her stunning fall from grace since a 15-month drugs ban, which expired in 2017, continued.

Serena Williams and her quest to equal the grand slam record for most women's singles titles continues against Tamara Zidansek at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

American superstar Williams has been stuck on 23 major championships since winning the Australian Open in 2017, trailing Margaret Court's tally of 24.

Williams has reached four slam finals since, however, the 38-year-old has finished runner-up on every occasion.

We take a closer look at where Williams is at as she prepares for her second-round encounter at Melbourne Park.

 

Form and results

Riding a drought-ending triumph at the Auckland Open, Williams started her quest for an eighth Australian Open title with a routine victory over teenager Anastasia Potapova on Monday. Williams needed just 58 minutes to wrap up proceedings on Rod Laver Arena – her 350th grand slam match victory.

R1: bt Potapova 6-0 6-3

Next up

Zidansek stands in the way of Williams and a third-round berth. The 22-year-old Slovenian was too good for wildcard Han Na-lae 6-3 6-3 in the opening round. A runner-up in her only WTA Tour final in May 2019, Zidansek also reached the second round in Melbourne last year, before falling to eventual champion Naomi Osaka.

Draw

If Williams beats Zidansek, Fiona Ferro, Wang Qiang or Pauline Parmentier await, while a showdown with good friend Caroline Wozniacki could await in the fourth round. Former world number one and 2018 Australian Open champion Wozniacki is retiring at the end of this tournament.

What she said

"I think, so to say, monkey off my back, kind of. It was very important for me to get a win in the final [Auckland Open]. It felt like a relief. Like I could move forward now."

Johanna Konta's recent Australian Open struggles continued with a surprise first-round exit in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The world number 13 was well beaten 6-4 6-2 by Ons Jabeur, marking the third straight year in which she has fallen in the second round or sooner at the opening grand slam of the season.

Konta was left to lament 19 unforced errors, while Jabeur mixed 19 winners with 12 unforced errors in a 63-minute loss.

A semi-finalist in Melbourne in 2016 and quarter-finalist the following year, Konta has followed that up with two second-round exits and Tuesday's loss.

The Brit's exit is favourable for Dayana Yastremska and Caroline Wozniacki, with the winner of their second-round meeting to face Jabeur, Madison Brengle or Caroline Garcia.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.