Thursday, January 23, 2020

Wang shocks Serena in third round of Aussie Open

Serena Williams lost to Wang Qiang four months after crushing
her 6-1, 6-0 in 44 minutes. File photo by Paul Bauman
   All indications were that Serena Williams would easily beat Wang Qiang tonight in the third round of the Australian Open.
   Four months ago in their only previous meeting, Williams crushed Wang 6-1, 6-0 in 44 minutes in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.
   Williams was 7-0 this year entering tonight's match. She won Auckland two weeks ago for her first title since having her first child in September 2017 and undergoing life-threatening complications.
   In her first two Australian Open matches, Williams lost no more than three games in a set.
   Despite all that, the 27th-seeded Wang topped the eighth-seeded Williams 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 in 2 hours, 41 minutes in Melbourne. It was Williams' earliest loss in the Australian Open, a tournament she has won seven times, since she third-round exit in 2006.
   After the U.S. Open debacle, "I worked really hard on and off the court," China's Wang, who turned 28 on Jan. 14, said in an on-court interview.
   Wang had 25 winners and 20 errors to Williams' 43 and 56, respectively.
   "I just made far too many errors to be a professional athlete today," Williams, a 38-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley, told reporters.
   Williams again fell short in her quest to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. Williams has not won a major since the 2017 Australian Open despite reaching four finals, losing in straight sets twice at Wimbledon and twice at the U.S. Open.
  "She wants No. 24 so much that the pressure is mounting," ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe declared.
   Wang served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but Williams broke at 15. After Williams prevailed in the tiebreaker, she saved a break point to hold for 1-1 in the third set.
   Williams served to stay in the match at 5-6 but slugged two backhands long to trail 0-30. Williams pounded a service winner for 15-30, but another backhand long gave Wang two match points. Wang squandered them with two errors, but Williams returned the favor (missing two first serves) to end it.

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