Sunday, February 7, 2021

Pera ousts 2016 champion Kerber in Australian Open

Angelique Kerber, shown at Stanford in 2015 en route to the title, lost
to Bernarda Pera 6-0, 6-4 today in the first round of the Australian
Open. Photo by Mal Taam 
   Bernarda Pera of the United States dismissed No. 23 seed and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-0, 6-4 in a first-round matchup of left-handers today in the first round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Kerber, who won the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, had no aces, committed seven double faults and won only 25 percent of the points on her second serve (six of 24).
   Third seed and 2019 champion Naomi Osaka, 10th seed and seven-time champion Serena Williams and two-time finalist Venus Williams, unseeded at 40, won in straight sets. 
   Osaka, who has won three Grand Slam singles titles, made her WTA main-draw debut at Stanford in 2014. As a 16-year-old qualifier, she saved a match point and ousted 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur in the first round before losing to eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic.
   Serena Williams is making her 11th attempt to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. Williams won the Bank of the West Classic in 2011, 2012 and 2014, defeating Kerber in the latter final.
   Venus Williams made her professional debut indoors in Oakland at 14 years old in 1994. She reached the Stanford final eight times, winning in 2000 and 2002, before the tournament moved down the road to San Jose, Calif., in 2018.
   Third-seeded Dominic Thiem, who won his first major title in the U.S. Open last September and reached last year's Australian Open final, beat Mikhail Kukushkin, a Russia native who plays for Kazakhstan, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-3. 
   Kukushkin advanced to the final of the 2014 Aptos, Calif., Challenger, losing to 2006 Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis. 

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