Serena Williams suffered the first singles loss of her Fed Cup career, but the United States overcame Latvia to book their spot in the Finals on Saturday.

Trailing 2-0 in Washington, Latvia's fightback started with Jelena Ostapenko's win over Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

Williams' unbeaten record in singles was then ended by Anastasija Sevastova, who recorded a shock 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-6 (7-4) victory over the 23-time grand slam champion.

But USA moved into April's Fed Cup Finals thanks to Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the duo winning the doubles over Ostapenko and Sevastova 6-4 6-0.

Belarus needed a thrilling doubles rubber to overcome the Netherlands 3-2.

Aryna Sabalenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich edged Kiki Bertens and Demi Schuurs 4-6 6-3 7-6 (10-8).

Russia survived a test against Romania to prevail 3-2, Switzerland claimed a 3-1 success over Canada and Slovakia beat Great Britain 3-1.

Germany swept Brazil aside 4-0, Spain were too strong for Japan 3-1 and Elise Mertens led Belgium past Kazakhstan 3-1.

Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and Serena Williams gave the United States a 2-0 lead over Latvia in their Fed Cup qualifier on Friday.

Kenin blitzed Anastasija Sevastova 6-2 6-2 to get the USA up and running in Everett, while Williams battled past 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-3).

Barely a week after breaking through for her first grand slam title in Melbourne, Kenin was in the American state of Washington to represent her country.

The world number seven and 21-year-old surged past Sevastova before 23-time major winner Williams eventually saw off Ostapenko in the second rubber to improve her win-loss record at the Fed Cup to 14-0.

"It's been a long journey. It wasn't easy," Kenin said. "But I was super happy to come here and play with the team."

It was a tough day for former world number one and two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka, who was reduced to tears after losing to unheralded Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Osaka, whose title defence at Melbourne Park was sensationally ended by teenager Coco Gauff in the third round, was swept aside 6-0 6-3 against Sorribes Tormo.

Japan trail Spain 2-0 in the tie after Carla Suarez Navarro accounted for Misaki Doi 6-3 6-4.

Switzerland, led by Belinda Bencic, Germany and Slovakia also boast 2-0 leads against Canada, Brazil and Great Britain respectively.

The other ties – Netherlands against Belarus, Romania versus Russia and Belgium against Kazakhstan – are deadlocked at 1-1.

Serena Williams must make changes to her game, strategy and goals if she is to achieve her ambition of breaking the all-time grand slam singles record, says her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

A shock third-round Australian Open defeat to Wang Qiang ended the 38-year-old's most recent attempt to equal Margaret Court's mark of 24 major singles titles in the open era.

Williams has lost four grand slam finals, two at Wimbledon and another two at the US Open, since her return to the WTA Tour after giving birth to her daughter in 2017.

After the American called her performance "unprofessional" in the loss to Wang in Melbourne, Mouratoglou outlined the state of play, with the French Open her next opportunity in May.

"We have to accept the fact that it is not working," Mouratoglou said to BBC Sport.

"Maybe come back with a different angle, a different strategy and different goals so she can make it.

"She does feel positive, she feels negative too because it is a failure when she doesn't win a grand slam. We didn't expect at all to be losing so early, or to be losing at all.

"We have to face reality, but she is positive that she can make it otherwise she probably wouldn't be on a tennis court anymore.

"She's not that far away, but we have to change a few things. Her level is good enough, but we have to understand what is going on. 

"There is a big difference between reaching a final and winning one."

Williams went into the Australian Open as many people's favourite to win the tournament but, despite another setback, Mouratoglou insisted her fire was still there, though was reluctant to put a timescale on how long she will keep pursuing the record.

He added: "It's difficult to know how many chances she will have. I don't know how long she is going to be able to play but being able to reach four grand slam finals says a lot about her level.

"She had everything to retire, 23 grand slam titles. But she decided to make all the efforts, the physical efforts, the mental efforts, to come back to the game, with the goal to score more grand slams and beat the all-time record."

Williams, who won her first WTA title for three years in Auckland last month, is in the United States' Fed Cup team to face Latvia this week as part of a star-studded line-up that also contains Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and teenage sensation Coco Gauff.

Russia-born American star Sofia Kenin revealed Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams provided inspiration for her breakthrough Australian Open success.

Kenin, who moved to the United States when she was a child, claimed her first grand slam title on Saturday, fighting back to beat Garbine Muguruza 4-6 6-2 6-2 in the final at Melbourne Park.

The 21-year-old was to leapfrog 23-time major champion Williams to reach number seven in the WTA rankings following her triumph, becoming the top-ranked American player.

Kenin will now join her role model on the USA team for an upcoming Fed Cup qualifier, but she was also keen to highlight her Russian roots and the "feisty" approach she learned from Sharapova, a five-time grand slam winner.

"I definitely think [my Russian heritage] helped me," Kenin told a news conference. "I've looked up to Maria Sharapova, Anna Kournikova. I followed their matches when I was little.

"I feel like I got the feisty [approach]. I saw what it's like. She won a grand slam at 17, Maria, which I remember watching on TV. Yeah, I feel like that definitely helped me.

"I have part of Russian stuff inside me, the fight that I have, trying just to be confident, do what I do best.

"And thank you to my parents for giving me the American dream. [Being the American number one] is exciting. I'm so happy. I was told if I would win, I'd be number seven [in the world].

"It's such an honour. I love representing the US. I just love it. It's like an honour.

"Everything is coming into place, a dream come true. Everything I've done, all the hard work I've been doing is paying off.

"It hasn't sunk in yet. Everything is just still a blur for me. I just can't believe what happened. Yeah, it's just great. I feel like I'm doing some great things for American tennis.

"It's such an honour. I've watched Serena. I've been following her, all the slams she's been winning. It's a special feeling just to be ahead of her.

"I'm just super excited. I can't wait to compete, be on the same team with her in the Fed Cup."

As well as dropping the first set to Muguruza, Kenin recovered from a love-40 deficit on her serve at 2-2 in the decider.

"I'm so proud. Obviously not many people can do that," she said. "I feel like mental toughness has been a huge part. I've worked on that over the course of the years. It's just paying off.

"I knew I had to take my chance. I had to be brave by playing a two-time grand slam champion. All respect to her. She played a really tough match. Every point was such a battle."

Kenin is the 11th different champion in the 13 grand slams since the start of 2017, yet she was hoping to enjoy a period of dominance going forward.

"I would love to. That would be amazing," she said. "Right now, I mean, I still can't believe what just happened. I need to somehow come down and just let it all sink in.

"Hopefully, I can just keep going, build on everything that I've done these past two weeks, just move forward."

Coco Gauff and Serena Williams will team up next week when generations join forces as the United States begin their Fed Cup campaign.

Fifteen-year-old Gauff and Williams, 38, were named in a formidable-looking five-player squad for the qualifying tie against Latvia, which will be played in the city of Everett, near Seattle.

Gauff is in line to become the second-youngest player to represent the US in the Fed Cup, if she sees action in the two-day tie.

Only Jennifer Capriati has played at a younger age, with the future grand slam winner and world number one being just 14 years and four months old in 1990 when she played against Poland.

Joining Gauff and Williams will be Sofia Kenin, who has reached the semi-finals of the ongoing Australian Open, plus world number 19 Alison Riske and doubles specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

World number nine Williams saw her hopes of landing a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title in Melbourne dashed by a shock third-round defeat to China's Wang Qiang.

It was a result that prompted Williams to indicate she would work harder than ever to push for the record.

The veteran has never lost a Fed Cup singles match, being the holder of a 13-0 record, putting her two wins short of matching Martina Navratilova's career 15-0 mark.

Gauff went one round further than Williams in Australia before losing to compatriot Kenin, with the teenager having claimed the scalps of Venus Williams and defending champion Naomi Osaka on her run.

The US Fed Cup team is captained by former top-10 player Kathy Rinaldi, with the Latvia tie to be played on February 7-8.

Latvia have world number 33 Anastasija Sevastova and former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in their ranks.

A new Fed Cup format sees the winners of the eight February ties go on to compete at the 12-team Finals, which takes place in Budapest from April 14-19, with Australia, France, Hungary and Czech Republic already assured of their places.

Karolina Pliskova became the latest high-profile casualty at the Australian Open, the second seed stunned by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets.  

Defending champion Naomi Osaka and 23-time grand slam winner Serena Williams crashed out at Melbourne Park on Friday.

Pliskova – another women's singles contender – joined the star duo in departing the year's opening slam following Saturday's 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-3) defeat to 30th seed and two-time quarter-finalist Pavlyuchenkova.

A semi-finalist last year, Pliskova had matched or improved her best results at the Australian Open year-on-year since debuting in 2013.

However, the 2016 US Open runner-up was unable to build on her performances at Melbourne Park, where she succumbed to the aggressive Pavlyuchenkova in a gruelling encounter on Rod Laver Arena.

Pavlyuchenkova raced out to a 4-1 lead in the opening set, which was highlighted by a 30-point second game, before eventually prevailing in a tie-break after Pliskova rallied.

Pliskova, who finished with 35 winners and 29 unforced errors, recovered from a slow start in the second to force another tie-break but the Czech star was unable to send the match into a deciding set.

After tallying 51 winners and 43 unforced errors in two hours, 25 minutes, Pavlyuchenkova will face 2016 champion and three-time slam winner Angelique Kerber in the last 16.

World number one Ash Barty made serene progress to the fourth round of the Australian Open as Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams suffered shock exits.

Coco Gauff claimed another famous scalp in the form of defending champion Osaka to join Williams' conqueror Qiang Wang in the next round.

In a mixed day for the American contingent, Alison Riske and Sofia Kenin also went through, but Madison Keys was knocked out in straight sets.

Petra Kvitova was in commanding form as she progressed, while Caroline Wozniacki saw her career come to an end with defeat.

OSAKA DEFENCE ENDS AS SERENA WAIT GOES ON

Gauff got revenge for a rout at the hands of Osaka at the US Open last year to claim the biggest win of her fledgling career, seeing off the number three seed 6-3 6-4.

Beaten 6-3 6-0 in just 65 minutes at Flushing Meadows, 15-year-old Gauff made the most of 30 unforced errors from her opponent to set up a meeting with compatriot Kenin, who defeated Shuai Zhang 7-5 7-6 (9-7).

Williams' wait for a 24th grand slam singles title goes on, the American beaten in 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5 by Wang in a gripping encounter.

The 38-year-old, who hit 56 unforced errors to Wang's 20, confessed afterwards: "I just made far too many errors to be a professional athlete today."

OMINOUS SIGNS FROM BARTY AND KVITOVA

There were no such concerns for Barty, who dispatched Elena Rybakina 6-3 6-2 in 78 minutes.

The home favourite will face Riske in the fourth round, the American outlasting Julia Goerges 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

Last year's runner-up Petra Kvitova progressed in similarly imperious fashion, seeing off Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-1 6-2.

Kvitova, who is yet to drop a set at this year's event, will now face Maria Sakkari after her impressive 6-4 6-4 defeat of Keys.

 

TEARFUL WOZNIACKI BOWS OUT

Former world number one Wozniacki saw her career come to an end with a three-set defeat to Ons Jabeur.

The 2018 champion lost 7-5 3-6 7-5 to the Tunisian, who will play a fourth-round match at a major for the first time against Wang.

An emotional Wozniacki, who fought back from 3-0 down in the decider but was decisively broken in the 11th game, said afterwards: "I want to be out there fighting. I fought like my life depended on it."

Serena Williams "definitely" still believes she can match Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles despite her shock Australian Open exit.

Williams, a 23-time major winner, was on the wrong end of the first big upset of the week at Melbourne Park, going down 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5 to Wang Qiang in the third round on Friday.

The American great's wait for a record-equalling triumph goes on, her previous grand slam success coming at this tournament three years ago.

Williams, who has lost four major finals and given birth to her first child then, insists she would not still be playing if she was not confident of adding to her honours list.

"I definitely do believe or I wouldn't be on tour," she told reporters in Melbourne. "I don't play just to have fun. To lose is really not fun, to play to lose, personally.

"I don't know. I seemed 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.

"So it's not even about the win, it's just more about I'm better than that. That is what it is for me today."

Williams turns 39 this year but sees no reason why she will not be back to challenge at the Australian Open in 2021.

"I feel like I'm on the way up, so we'll see. I don't know," she said. "I'm not even thinking about anything, about not being here."

Serena Williams rued her errors in a shock Australian Open loss to Wang Qiang, revealing she wanted to punch a wall.

The American great fell to a surprise 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5 loss to Wang Qiang on Rod Laver Arena on Friday.

Williams committed 56 unforced errors to slump to her earliest Australian Open exit since 2006, while her wait for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title goes on.

The 38-year-old said losses were still painful, but she was better at hiding her disappointment.

"I am just a better actress, as I always say now. I'm no happier than I was 10 years ago," Williams told a news conference.

"But I just have to pretend like I don't want to punch the wall, but in reality I do."

Williams lamented her errors against Wang, who was consistent throughout a battle lasting two hours, 41 minutes.

Wang was crushed 6-1 6-0 when the pair met just months ago at the US Open, but managed a stunning win in Melbourne.

"I made a lot of errors," Williams said. "I didn't hit any of those shots in New York or in general in a really long time. So that's good news.

"I just made far too many errors to be a professional athlete today."

Serena Williams bowed out before the fourth round of the Australian Open for just the fourth time in her illustrious career.

The 23-time grand slam champion went down to Wang Qiang in a huge upset on Rod Laver Arena on Friday.

A seven-time champion in Melbourne, Williams made her earliest exit at the tournament since 2006.

We take a look at her earliest departures from the year's opening grand slam after her stunning loss to Wang.

1998, Second round: lost to Venus Williams 7-6 (7-4) 6-1

This was the first professional meeting between the Williams sisters. Venus, bound for the quarter-finals, overcame her younger sister in a head-to-head matchup she would eventually lose more often than not.

1999, Third round: lost to Sandrine Testud [14] 6-2 2-6 9-7

Only a controversial call on match point denied a 17-year-old Williams victory against Testud. Williams thought she had clinched victory in the 14th game of the third set before an overrule, and she would go on to fall to the French 14th seed.

2006, Third round: lost to Daniela Hantuchova [17] 6-1 7-6 (7-5)

On a 16-match winning streak at the Australian Open, having won the title in 2003 and 2005 and skipped 2004 due to a knee injury, Williams' run came to a surprise end against Hantuchova, left again to rue errors in a shock defeat.

2020, Third round: lost to Wang Qiang [27] 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5

Chasing a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title, Williams stunningly fell to Wang, a player she had crushed 6-1 6-0 at the US Open just months earlier. However, 56 unforced errors proved to be her undoing as Wang produced a consistent display to cause an upset after two hours, 41 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Wang Qiang insisted she always felt capable of beating Serena Williams leading into her stunning Australian Open upset of the American great.

Wang, 28, produced a shock 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5 third-round victory over the eighth seed on Rod Laver Arena on Friday.

The loss marked Williams' earliest exit in Melbourne since 2006 and again delayed her bid to draw level with Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam singles titles.

Wang's win was particularly remarkable given she lost 6-1 6-0 when the pair met in the US Open quarter-finals in 2019. 

"I think my team always believed I could do it," Wang told the Nine Network in an on-court interview.

"After last time, I've done a lot of hard work on the court and off the court. During the second set, I was a little bit confused. I had to be calm.

"I was a little bit confused but my mind always told me I had to focus on the court, focus on every point and trust myself."

Wang will now face Ons Jabeur for a place in the quarter-finals, the Tunisian having earlier beaten the retiring Caroline Wozniacki in three sets.

Asked if she planned to celebrate the triumph, Wang said: "Nope. Take a rest and just prepare for the next match."

Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff are among the 27th seed's potential quarter-final opponents should she get past world number 78 Jabeur.

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

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.

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