World number one Ash Barty was relieved to come through the "chaos" of a first day of few shocks at the Australian Open.

Home favourite and top seed Barty had to come from a set down to progress in Melbourne, beating Lesia Tsurenko 5-7 6-1 6-1.

The Queenslander ensured she joined several other big names in advancing, with defending champion Naomi Osaka triumphing along with Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova - straight-sets winners over Anastasia Potapova and Katerina Siniakova respectively.

Venus Williams did not follow her sister into round two, though, as she fell to 15-year-old Coco Gauff once again.

Gauff had already beaten fellow American Williams at Wimbledon last year and pulled off a repeat on Monday.

Sloane Stephens crashed out 2-6 7-5 6-2 to Zhang Shuai, while Barbora Strycova lost to Sorana Cirstea in straight sets, but fellow seeds Petra Martic, Sofia Kenin and Ekaterina Alexandrova all advanced.

Caroline Wozniacki, who will retire at the end of the tournament, prolonged her career by easing past Kristie Ahn 6-1 6-3.


BARTY GETTING BETTER AT EACH SLAM

Barty won the French Open last season and feels she is improving with the experience of every major.

"It's always a little bit different, I think," she said. "Slams always feel like there's a lot of chaos going because there's so many people.

"It's busy with singles and doubles players, mixed players, families, coaches, everyone underneath. It's just chaos.

"When you're able to separate that from when you step on the court is when you can do a little bit better, play a little bit better, feel a little bit more comfortable.

"I feel like we've been able to do that better and better with each slam that I've played. It's an experience thing. You have to learn how to deal with it, but it's getting better."

Reflecting on her role as a home favourite and the top seed, Barty added: "I feel like I'm doing it the best way that I know how. I'm doing it with my team. We're doing it as a team.

"We're loving it. We're embracing it. There's no other way to approach it. I think we're just going along for the ride, trying to play some good tennis."


VENUS: THE SKY'S THE LIMIT FOR COCO

Seven-time grand slam winner Venus Williams knows a thing or two about champions, and she expects new nemesis Gauff to go all the way to the top.

Asked if the teenager has a "champion's mentality", Williams replied: "She clearly wants it, works very hard, is extremely mature for her age. I think the sky's the limit for her."

The veteran was impressed by Gauff's mentality, adding: "She just played very focused and put a lot of balls in the court. That's what you have to do.

"She'll play well for the rest of the event."


WOZNIACKI 'TRYING TO ENJOY THE MOMENT'

Knowing her career is coming to an end, Wozniacki acknowledged she found it difficult to keep her emotions in check.

But the 2018 champion is determined to enjoy her final days at the top of the sport.

"I feel good, having won my first match here. It's always tricky, especially knowing it's my last tournament," she said. "There's a lot of just emotions, but I tried to keep them in check, and I thought I did that very well today.

"I think I'm just really trying to enjoy every moment. I don't know that there is one particular moment, but there is once in a while where you're like, 'Wow, this really is my last one'.

"You never know, it [could be] still two weeks from now. But every match you go out there, I'm just going to give it everything that I have, because it could be the last."

Venus Williams said she would love to play doubles with sister Serena at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this year after Monday's Australian Open first-round exit.  

It was a case of deja vu for Venus, who went down 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 to 15-year-old Coco Gauff in a rematch of 2019's memorable Wimbledon clash.

Venus was stunned by the American teenager at the All England Club last year and the 39-year-old former world number one suffered the same fate in Melbourne.

Her attention, however, turned to the Olympics after a straight-sets loss on Margaret Court Arena.

"In a perfect world, I would play every time. I love it," seven-time grand slam singles champion Venus said in her news conference.

Asked specifically about teaming up with 23-time major winner Serena Williams and whether she has discussed the prospect with her sibling, Venus replied: "I mean, in the perfect world, we'll be there.

"If I'm blessed enough to play again, that would be an amazing opportunity."

Venus has won four Olympic gold medals, one in singles at Sydney 2000 and three in partnership with Serena, while she also boasts 14 women's doubles titles in slams. 

"[I've] had a lot of success in doubles," she added. "That's been a real highlight in my career."

Teenage American Coco Gauff is on a "mission to be the greatest" after vanquishing Venus Williams in their highly anticipated rematch at the Australian Open.   

Gauff announced herself on the international stage by stunning Williams at Wimbledon last year and the 15-year-old repeated the feat in straight sets in Melbourne on Monday.

Making her Australian Open main draw debut, Gauff defeated 39-year-old former world number one Williams 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

"My mission is to be the greatest. That's my goal, to win as many grand slams as possible," Gauff told reporters after Williams said "the sky is the limit" for her countrywoman.

"But for today, my mission was to win. I didn't want to let the nerves come to me. I know I had a couple of set points, and she played well. I knew I had to take it from her. She wasn't going to give it to me. That was really the mission.

"I think today has been the best match so far I played this year. I was a lot more focused. I think today really showed what I worked on in my off-season."

Asked if she believes she can win the event, Gauff replied: "If I go into a tournament thinking I'll lose, then I'm going to lose.

"To answer that, I respect everyone's game and I respect my opponent, but at the end of the day if I'm going to go against them, I can't say, 'Oh, I'm going to lose this match'. That's not the right mentality to have. I believe I can beat anyone. If it happens, I don't know. But I think that's almost every player's mentality. 

"The ones who are the great ones, they don't really fear anyone. You respect your opponent, but you can't go into the match fearing someone, because then you're going to lose, and I don't want to lose."

Gauff added: "I feel like my mindset has changed since the US Open. [At the] US Open I felt like I was on edge every match just because everyone was talking about the US Open before Wimbledon even ended.

"I guess I came to the realisation that I need to play my game, not worry about what people think of me. At the end of the day, I did have three good matches, both US Open and Wimbledon. I still have a lot more to become like one of those big names."

Coco Gauff showed the future is now after vanquishing Venus Williams in straight sets in the first round of the Australian Open.   

American teenager Gauff defied her age yet again, the 15-year-old defeating veteran Williams 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in her Australian Open main-draw debut at a wet Melbourne Park on Monday.

Gauff produced one of 2019's most remarkable results when she beat five-time Wimbledon champion and countrywoman Williams in the first round at the All England Club.

And Gauff repeated the feat again as she eliminated the 39-year-old former world number one – who withdrew from the Adelaide International through injury – after one hour, 37 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

The first-round match was a standout contest after Gauff announced herself at Wimbledon last year.

Gauff raced out to a 2-0 lead against seven-time grand slam champion Williams, who fought back and saved three set points to claim the break back and pull level at 5-5.

Williams battled well to force a tie-break, but Gauff finally closed out the set after the two-time Australian Open runner-up fired a backhand volley into the net.

The 35-minute second set was more straightforward for Gauff, who fired 10 winners to book her spot in the next round against Sorana Cirstea.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Coco Gauff bt Venus Williams 7-6 (7-5) 6-3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Gauff – 17/30
Williams – 25/41

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Gauff – 2/4
Williams – 7/6

BREAK POINTS WON
Gauff – 2/6
Williams – 1/2

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Gauff – 58
Williams – 65

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Gauff – 77/61
Williams – 77/40

TOTAL POINTS
Gauff – 78
Williams – 68

Venus Williams' clash with Coco Gauff headlines the Australian Open first round, but former champion Stan Wawrinka also faces an early test in Melbourne.

Williams and Gauff will meet for the second time in what is a blockbuster opening-round encounter.

But there are several intriguing clashes in the first round at the year's first grand slam and we take a look at six of the best.

 

Damir Dzumhur v Stan Wawrinka [15]

Wawrinka would have preferred a friendlier draw than a man he has lost to in two of their three meetings. The Swiss 2014 champion was resurgent last year, while Dzumhur has been unable to replicate the form of his breakout season in 2017. Still, the Bosnian beat Wawrinka in three sets on clay in Geneva last year so the three-time grand slam champion will have to be near his best.

Daniil Medvedev [4] v Frances Tiafoe

Tiafoe thrilled during a run to the quarter-finals in Melbourne last year, but that would prove to be the high point of his 2019. The American has made a slow start to 2020 with first-round losses in Doha and Auckland, but was competitive against Medvedev in a 6-2 7-5 loss in Washington last year. After a spectacular 2019 that included reaching the US Open final, Medvedev shapes as the most likely to stop the 'Big Three', although he will need to get through a somewhat tricky opener first.

Sam Querrey v Borna Coric [25]

While he has dropped off since 2017, Querrey will fancy his chances against Coric after the Croatian's difficult finish to last year. Coric finished 2019 with six straight losses and suffered two more at the ATP Cup, to go with a win over Dominic Thiem. After four consecutive first-round exits in Melbourne, Coric reached the fourth round last year, while Querrey has never been beyond the third round in Melbourne. Coric won their only previous meeting at the French Open in 2015.

Venus Williams v Coco Gauff

Arguably the pick of any first-round match, the 39-year-old Williams meets the 15-year-old Gauff once more. Gauff stunned Williams 6-4 6-4 at Wimbledon last year and her ranking then (313) compared to now (66) tells the story of how she finished 2019 as the teenager followed it up with a title win in Linz. Williams withdrew from Brisbane due to injury, making this a hugely tough task for the seven-time grand slam singles champion.

Kristina Mladenovic v Karolina Pliskova [2]

Pliskova has enjoyed Melbourne in recent years, reaching at least the quarter-finals in each of the past three, but was handed a tough start in 2020. The Czech is coming off a title win in Brisbane and that will give her much-needed confidence ahead of facing former world number 10 Mladenovic. The pair have split their previous four meetings, with Mladenovic winning the last of those in 2017.

Donna Vekic [19] v Maria Sharapova

A wildcard, Sharapova was always going to be the danger in the draw – and she landed alongside 19th seed Vekic. Vekic enjoyed a fine 2019 to rise into the world's top 20, while Sharapova battled injuries and has fallen to 145th in the rankings. Vekic should be the favourite to advance, but if five-time major winner Sharapova can find some form, the Russian is always a threat and last bowed out in the opening round in Melbourne in 2010.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic could meet Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, while Venus Williams has again been pitted against Coco Gauff.

Gauff produced one of 2019's most remarkable results when she beat five-time Wimbledon champion Williams in the first round at the All England club, and the 15-year-old will again face her compatriot in the opening round of 2020's first major.

Serena Williams starts her latest quest for a 24th grand slam singles title against another teenager, Anastasia Potapova, and she could be on for a quarter-final against defending champion Naomi Osaka, who plays Marie Bouzkova in round one.

Ashleigh Barty, who heads into her home slam at the top of the WTA rankings, begins her campaign against Lesia Tsurenko and could meet last year's runner-up Petra Kvitova in the last eight.

Fourth seed Simona Halep takes on Jennifer Brady in round one, with Maria Sharapova facing a difficult opener against Donna Vekic and second seed Karolina Pliskova meeting Kristina Mladenovic.

World number two Djokovic faces a tough start to his title defence in Melbourne against Jan-Lennard Struff, who climbed 20 places in the ATP rankings between January 2019 and this year.

Federer, seeking his 21st grand slam title and seventh in Australia, begins against American Steve Johnson and could face a round-of-16 match with Grigor Dimitrov, who won their last meeting at the quarter-final stage of the US Open.

Djokovic is on course to meet Federer in the semis but Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has beaten the Serbian twice in four meetings, may lie in wait first at the quarter-final stage.

World number one Rafael Nadal meets Hugo Dellien in the first round and could face home favourite Nick Kyrgios in round four.

Dominic Thiem could await Nadal in the quarter-finals, the Austrian beginning his quest for a maiden grand slam triumph against Adrian Mannarino.

World number four Daniil Medvedev has a difficult opening match against Frances Tiafoe, with Alexander Zverev a possible last-eight opponent.

Caroline Garcia came from behind to avoid a shock defeat in the first round of the Tianjin Open, but Venus Williams was dumped out.

Fourth seed Garcia lost the first set to Anastasia Potapova before fighting back to claim a 2-6 6-2 6-2 win.

Seven-time grand slam champion Williams could not produce a similar recovery, however, losing 6-3 4-6 6-3 to Rebecca Peterson, who maintained her upward momentum after winning her maiden WTA singles title in Nanchang last month.

Williams spurned two match points in a defeat to Belinda Bencic in the second round of the China Open last time out and was unable to deliver the kind of display that saw her push a top-10 player to the limit as she fell at the first hurdle.

Sixth seed Yulia Putintseva needed three sets to see off Astra Sharma 6-1 1-6 7-5, while Sam Stosur - a finalist in Guangzhou last month - also had to go the distance to beat Yang Zhaoxuan.

There was home success for Wang Yafan, the Chinese dishing out a bagel in a straight-sets defeat of Lauren Davis, while Heather Watson overcame Kateryna Bondarenko.

 

 

Bianca Andreescu's first match since her US Open triumph went to plan despite a brief wobble against Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Monday.

The Canadian secured a 14th straight win on the WTA Tour as she defeated Sasnovich 6-2 2-6 6-1 at the China Open.

Andreescu proved her mental strength time and again en route to her maiden grand slam success and was required to do more of the same in Beijing, seeing a straightforward opener give way to a gruelling second set.

The fifth seed recovered her composure and raced to victory in the third, setting up a clash with Elise Mertens, who gave her a real test in the Flushing Meadows quarter-finals.

"I felt like in the second set I was too tense. But she was playing really well," Andreescu said. "I think I was just getting down on myself too much.

"I think I play my best tennis when I'm a little bit more relaxed. In the third set I just wanted to stay as positive as I could and just stay relaxed, to continue going for my shots."

Mertens eased past Petra Martic 6-3 6-3 to book that match-up, but there were surprises elsewhere.


HALEP HOPES ENDED

It was announced on Monday that Andreescu and Simona Halep had secured their places in the WTA Finals.

But where Andreescu celebrated with a win to start the final Premier Mandatory tournament of the year, Halep – still troubled by a back issue – came unstuck, the sixth seed beaten 6-2 6-3 by Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Alexandrova reflected: "It was a pretty tough match, but I think she didn't play that well.

"I remember when we played last time in Cincinnati, it was tougher. But I tried to stay focused for the whole match because I knew she could play just amazing."

Jelena Ostapenko upset Karolina Pliskova on Saturday, but her run was also ended as she fell 6-2 6-1 to Katerina Siniakova.


WOZNIACKI WINS OPENER

Caroline Wozniacki has endured a tough 2019, but she marked her return to Beijing with a dominant defeat of Lauren Davis.

The Dane has won the China Open twice - including 12 months ago at the end of an outstanding season - and began her latest bid by beating Davis 6-1 6-3.

Kiki Bertens was another seed to avoid an upset, overcoming teenager Dayana Yastremska 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

"It was tough," Bertens said. "I hadn't played her before but, of course, she hits the ball so hard, so you never really know what you're going to get."

Elina Svitolina battled back impressively in both sets against Wang Yafan to progress courtesy of a pair of tie-breaks.


BENCIC BATTLES BACK

Venus Williams saw her campaign ended by US Open semi-finalist Belinda Bencic.

The 39-year-old took the opener but went down 3-6 6-3 7-5 in the final match of the day.

Madison Keys defeated Karolina Muchova to set up an all-American meeting with Jennifer Brady, who beat 18-year-old compatriot and French Open semi-finalist Amanda Anisimova

Sofia Kenin is set to face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who sunk fellow Russian Veronika Kudermetova 6-0 3-6 7-6 (7-4).

Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina eased their way into the second round of the China Open, though Venus Williams had to battle to secure her place.

Fresh from her victory in the Pan Pacific Open, Osaka overcame Jessica Pegula 6-3 7-6 (7-5), while Wimbledon champion Halep made light work of Rebecca Peterson.

Third seed Svitolina found matters slightly more taxing against Anastasija Sevastova, coming from a set down to win 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 6-2.

Angelique Kerber, too, needed three sets to get the better of Chinese number two Zheng Shuai, though it was former world number one Williams who had the toughest test.

The 39-year-old was 5-3 down to Barbora Strycova in the final set, but clawed her way back to triumph 6-3 4-6 7-5.

Williams' compatriot Sloane Stephens also made it through, while one of China's main hopes - world number 16 Wang Qiang - retired hurt against Ajla Tomljanovic.

FAVOURITES PILE THROUGH

Having seen second seed Karolina Pliskova dumped out by wildcard Jelana Ostapenko on Saturday, Osaka, Halep and Svitolina took no chances in their respective matches.

Two-time grand slam winner Osaka failed to really press home her advantage in the second set against Pegula, though two errors on the bounce from the American handed the former world number one the win.

"I just felt like this match, I was kind of living in the moment every point. I wasn't really thinking too much in the future, too much in the past," said Osaka.

Halep - who had to withdraw from the Wuhan Open with a back injury - found life much easier against Peterson, though Svitolina did have to come from behind to get past Sevastova and set up a round-two tie with Wang Yafan.

WILLIAMS BATTLES BACK FROM THE BRINK

It looked as though Venus Williams would be heading home early when Wimbledon semi-finalist Strycova took a 5-3 lead in the third set, after the Czech had come from behind in their encounter.

Williams had started strongly but faded in the second set, with Strycova winning five straight games to claim it 6-4.

A Williams break looked set to have handed the veteran the edge, but Strycova fought back with a three-game winning streak.

However, despite twice going within two points of victory, Strycova failed to capitalise, Williams clinching a hard-fought win with her second match point. Belinda Bencic awaits in round two.


FORMER CHAMPIONS FALL

Dayana Yastremska stormed into the second round, taking just 55 minutes to beat 2017 Beijing champion Caroline Garcia 6-1 6-1.

Another former winner - Svetlana Kuznetsova - also fell at the first hurdle, with Christina McHale triumphing 6-0 1-6 6-3.

With Garcia and Kuznetsova out and Garbine Muguruza having been defeated by Sofia Kenin on Saturday, only defending champion Caroline Wozniacki - who faces Lauren Davis on Monday - remains of the four previous winners to have featured in the main draw this time around.

Venus Williams fell at the first hurdle in the Wuhan Open as she went down 5-7 6-7 (5-7) to compatriot Danielle Collins.

Williams entered the competition as a wildcard but, despite breaking twice in the opener, lost her own serve on three occasions as Collins took the first of three set points to go ahead.

Two concessions of serve followed for Williams as Collins raced into a five-game lead in set two, but the 39-year-old rallied to survive two match points and force a tie break.

But despite squandering a further two match points, world number 35 Collins eventually prevailed to set up a second-round tie with defending champion Aryna Sabalenka.

The 21-year-old split with long-time coach Dmitry Tursunov after her US Open exit and lost to Petra Martic in the quarter-finals of the Zhengzhou Open last week.

Sabalenka bounced back on Sunday though, overcoming fellow Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-1 6-2.

Sloane Stephens ended the hopes of home favourite Zhang Shuai, coming from 4-2 down in the first set to win it 7-5.

Momentum swung between Stephens and Shuai in set two, but the American came out with a 7-5 6-4 win when she converted a fourth match point.

World number one Ashleigh Barty received a bye for round one, with the Australian to play against former world number two Caroline Garcia after her straight sets win over Daria Kasatkina.

Bernarda Pera beat Jennifer Brady to tee up a match with Kike Bertens, while Polona Gercog progressed to meet Petra Kvitova.

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, meanwhile, will go up against Barbora Strycova, who dispatched Xiyu Wang in 6-4 6-2.

Serena Williams will play her 10th US Open final on Saturday - 20 years on from her first.

The 37-year-old is set to step out at Arthur Ashe Stadium in pursuit of her 24th grand slam title and yet more history.

Williams is now established as one of the greatest athletes of all time, but how did she and the women's tennis world look in September 1999?

We take a step back in time.


SERENA'S EARLY STRIDES

Williams entered the 1999 US Open as a 17-year-old, but she had already played four WTA Tour finals and was the seventh seed.

Victory over Steffi Graf in the Indian Wells title match had shown just what she could do on the big stage, and she had a whole host of victories over top-10 players to her name by the time she arrived at Flushing Meadows for what was her seventh major.

Williams defeated world number one Martina Hingis three times in 1999, with the third and final victory securing her landmark title in New York.

An incredible run had seen her already beat Conchita Martinez, Monica Seles and defending champion Lindsay Davenport.


THE WILLIAMS DYNASTY

The Williams name was well known on the tour by the time Serena started to really make waves, as sister Venus, two years her senior, had reached the US Open final in the 1997 season.

That was a first tour-level final of any sort for Venus and she was thrashed by Hingis. But Venus won the Miami Open in consecutive years - beating Serena in the 1999 final - and triumphed at the Internazionali d'Italia before heading to the US Open.

Venus was made to wait until Wimbledon in 2000 to taste grand slam victory, however, losing to Hingis in the 1999 Flushing Meadows semis as Serena celebrated a first triumph.

Yet the dominant Williams doubles team had already been established, with victory at the French Open and another in New York.


SEIZING THE POWER

Just as is common in 2019, the major titles were evenly distributed on the WTA Tour in 1999. Hingis won in Melbourne, Graf triumphed at the French Open and then Davenport came out on top at Wimbledon.

Davenport had been the title holder at the US Open, too, until Serena triumphed.

But the arrival of the Williams sisters signalled the end of dominant times for Hingis, Graf and Davenport. The latter claimed her final grand slam title at the 2000 Australian Open, but Hingis did not win a singles major again after Serena's breakthrough. Graf retired just weeks before the 1999 US Open.

Hingis still topped the rankings at the end of 1999, but Venus was third and Serena fourth. And this was still months before Bianca Andreescu, Saturday's opponent for Serena in New York, was even born.

Serena Williams moved through at the US Open but sister Venus was sent packing as rain wreaked havoc in New York.

Only five women's singles matches were completed at Flushing Meadows, where poor weather conditions prevented play on uncovered outside courts.

Former world number one and 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams took to Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night and survived a scare.

Venus could not make it two from two for the Williams family, while second seed Ashleigh Barty advanced to the third round.

 

SERENA SEES OFF MCNALLY

Six-time US Open champion Serena Williams rallied to beat countrywoman Caty McNally 5-7 6-3 6-1.

Williams dropped the first set against her 17-year-old opponent, but the eighth seed eventually improved to 19-0 in the US Open second round.

The 37-year-old American superstar hit 32 winners and 10 aces, while winning 81 per cent of her first serves.

 

SVITOLINA VANQUISHES VENUS

Elina Svitolina booked her spot in the US Open third round for the fifth successive year after defeating Venus Williams 6-4 6-4.

Svitolina – the fifth seed – needed almost two hours to see off Williams in a second-round blockbuster.

Seven-time grand slam champion and 39-year-old Williams was asked about her future and plans for the remainder of the year.

"I mean, [it] was a great match. It was well-contested and it was great to have the crowd behind me," she told reporters. "It was just a really magical atmosphere.

"I did a lot of things right today. A lot of great things to build on. I missed Asia the last couple of years, so I'd love to head on over and play some more matches."

 

BARTY WINS AS KEYS HITS RIGHT NOTES

French Open winner Barty beat a brave Lauren Davis 6-2 7-6 (7-2) under the Louis Armstrong Stadium lights.

Madison Keys equalled her career-best winning streak by topping Zhu Lin 6-4 6-1 in the second round.

Runner-up in 2017, Keys made it eight consecutive victories after claiming her fifth WTA title at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, third seed and 2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova eased past qualifier Mariam Bolkvadze 6-1 6-4.

Williams sisters Serena and Venus barely raised a sweat on day one of the US Open, while Ashleigh Barty dug deep to advance in New York.

Serena and Venus Williams lost three games between them as the American pair cruised through to the second round at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

Former world number one and French Open champion Barty survived a big scare, 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys eased into the next round but Angelique Kerber crashed out.

 

SERENA EXTENDS SHARAPOVA DOMINANCE

It was a ruthless performance from 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams, who demolished Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-1.

Serena – who was at the centre of an infamous meltdown during last year's US Open final – made it 19 straight victories over five-time major winner Sharapova.

Fellow American Caty McNally is up next for Serena after easing past Timea Bacsinszky 6-4 6-1.

Two-time champion Venus Williams, meanwhile, routed Zheng Saisai 6-1 6-0 to extend her first-round record at the tournament to 21-0.

"I was happy with today, so I'm not going to ask for more," said Venus, who faces Elina Svitolina after the fifth seed defeated Whitney Osuigwe 6-1 7-5.

As for 10th seed Keys, she kicked off her campaign with a 7-5 6-0 victory over Misaki Doi after 63 minutes.

 

A MUCH-NEEDED AUSTRALIAN WIN

Australian sport was reeling on Sunday when Ben Stokes and the England cricket team produced a stunning fightback in the third Ashes Test.

And it briefly appeared fans Down Under were set for further pain when Aussie star Barty remarkably fell 5-0 behind to Zarina Diyas in the first set played at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the tournament.

But Barty – a former cricketer – rallied 1-6 6-3 6-2 to provide a much-needed boost, having herself taken in Australia's Headingley aberration.

"[England's performance] was pretty good. Credit where credit's due," she said. "Stokesy was incredible.

"I think we missed some opportunities and my whole team were glued to it. I have an English trainer, as well. He's had a fantastic 24 hours of feeding it to us and not letting us forget that result."

 

ADDED NERVES AMONG CZECH MATES

Karolina Pliskova came through two tie-breaks in an all-Czech clash packed with breaks to beat Tereza Martincova – and the third seed cheekily blamed her opponent's nationality for her nervy display.

"It was not perfect, but I'm through, so that's important," she said. "The first rounds they are always a little bit nervous, I would say, for most of the players.

"It doesn't help that you play somebody from your country, because then it adds some extra nerves, which maybe would not be there if she's from China or something."

Unable to respond as Pliskova did, Kerber was a big opening-day casualty, losing 7-5 0-6 6-4 to Kristina Mladenovic.

Meanwhile, Johanna Konta, who reached the last four at Roland Garros and the last eight at Wimbledon, was made to work for three sets by Daria Kasatkina, having appeared set for swift and stylish progress after taking the opener before prevailing 6-1 4-6 6-2.

Anastasija Sevastova consigned Eugenie Bouchard to a miserable 12th straight singles defeat, a run stretching back to February.

Coco Gauff will make her second grand slam appearance at the US Open next week, fresh from capturing the tennis world's imagination with her stunning Wimbledon performance.

The 15-year-old reached the fourth round after becoming the All England Club's youngest qualifier in the Open era, and she will be one of the main attractions at her home slam.

Gauff beat her idol in the first round at Wimbledon when she defeated Venus Williams, who in 1997 shocked tennis by progressing to the US Open final as a 17-year-old before losing to Martina Hingis.

It will be a difficult challenge for Gauff to replicate that achievement, but how does her career to this point stack up to that of the adolescent Venus? We compared their two records to find out.

WTA Tour record: Williams (before the 1997 US Open) 10-9, Gauff 4-4

By the time she arrived at Flushing Meadows for her first US Open, Williams was effectively a regular on the tour and had already enjoyed reasonable success. She reached the quarter-finals at Indian Wells and beat Jennifer Capriati in Miami, where she suffered the first of two straight-sets defeats to Hingis that served as preludes to their New York showpiece.

Gauff, meanwhile, has been largely limited to the lower-level ITF circuit beyond her exploits at Wimbledon. She did beat fellow emerging talent and doubles partner Caty McNally in the first round in Miami, but that marks her only victory on the WTA Tour away from the All England Club.

Singles finals: Williams 0, Gauff 1 (ITF)

Gauff does have the experience of a singles final that the young Venus did not, though it came on the ITF Tour in Surprise, Florida in February. She suffered defeat to Sesil Karatantcheva and there was no clue at that point of the highs to come at Wimbledon.

World ranking: Williams 66, Gauff 141

The teenage Venus' performances on the tour going into the US Open had helped her become established in the top 100. Gauff still has some way to go to achieve the same feat but a Wimbledon-esque run for the 15-year-old in Queens would catapult her up the rankings.

Grand Slam win-loss record: Williams 1-2, Gauff 3-1

The major difference between the 17-year-old Venus and the 15-year-old Gauff is that prior to her dream run in the Big Apple, Williams had shown no signs of being able to deliver on the grand slam stage. She reached the second round at the French Open before being beaten by Nathalie Tauziat. At Wimbledon she lost to Magdalena Grzybowska in round one, providing little indication of the form she was about to find - or the game that would see her eventually win seven slam singles titles.

The contrast to Gauff could hardly be greater, with plenty of expectation sure to be on her shoulders after Wimbledon wins over Venus, Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog and a defeat to Simona Halep in which she did herself no disservice.

Ashleigh Barty is one win away from returning to the top of the WTA rankings after world number one Naomi Osaka retired in the Western & Southern Open quarter-finals.

Osaka only herself reclaimed top spot by reaching the last eight at the Rogers Cup, but defeat to Sofia Kenin at the same stage in Cincinnati would open the door for Barty.

And the Japanese star, having battled back after losing the first set, taking the second 6-1, was forced to retire at the WTA Premier event on Friday.

Osaka had required treatment to a knee injury and finally retired after being broken early in the third set.

Barty will now unseat Osaka if she advances to the final, having reached the last four with a stunning comeback victory over Maria Sakkari 5-7 6-2 6-0.

Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova's own hopes of reaching the summit – a possibility if Barty also fell by the wayside – ended as she crashed out to Svetlana Kuznetsova in another three-set contest.

 

BARTY FOCUSED ON TOURNAMENT SUCCESS

The ranking might be on the line for Barty, but she is happy to set that aside and focus on going as far as possible in Cincinnati.

"I'm just keeping my eye on the ball and, if I win matches, the ranking will take care of itself," she said after her win.

"We're excited to be in new territory here in Cincy."

Kuznetsova awaits the Australian and French Open champion.

 

OSAKA WORRIED AFTER BOWING OUT

It was not a good day for reigning US Open champion Osaka.

Osaka retired with a leg injury against Kenin, handing Barty the chance to return to the WTA summit.

It also means Osaka is under an injury cloud ahead of the US Open at Flushing Meadows, where she stunned Serena Williams last year.

"It sucks, especially since I didn't want to get injured this close to the Open," Osaka said. "And now I'm kind of worried a little bit.

"She was playing well. I had to really think about what I had to do during the match, so I'm not that mad at the result. The injured part sucks, but losing, it's not that big of a deal."

 

KUZNETSOVA WINS THRILLER AGAINST PLISKOVA

Two-time grand slam champion Kuznetsova outlasted third seed Pliskova 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 to reach the final four.

Kuznetsova was down a set with Pliskova serving for the match but the Russian rallied thanks to 30 winners and six aces in the gruelling two hour, 23-minute clash.

Meanwhile, Madison Keys vanquished seven-time major champion Venus Williams 6-2 6-3 to set up a semi-final with fellow American Kenin.

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