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Monday, June 01, 2020

Australian Open Day 5: Osaka, Serena knocked out, Barty on a roll

Defending champion Naomi Osaka was knocked out of the Australian Open on Friday, falling 6-3 6-4 in a stunning upset by American teenage sensation Coco Gauff in the third round.

By: Reuters | Updated: January 24, 2020 3:32:29 pm
Japan’s Naomi Osaka looks dejected after the match against Cori Gauff of the US. (Source: REUTERS) 

Defending champion Naomi Osaka was knocked out of the Australian Open on Friday, falling 6-3 6-4 in a stunning upset by American teenage sensation Coco Gauff in the third round.

Osaka was the third former Open winner to bow out of the draw after Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki, who won the title in 2017 and 2018, lost their respective matches at Melbourne Park earlier in the day.

Gauff, who lost to Osaka easily 6-3 6-0 at the US Open last year, avoided a repeat defeat as a string of backhand errors off the Japanese player’s racquet gave the 15-year-old the break midway through the opening set.

The pattern repeated itself in the second set, as Osaka continued to misfire and Gauff served out the victory after just 67 minutes on court.

Serena Williams suffers dramatic exit

Seven-times champion Serena Williams suffered a dramatic exit from the Australian Open on Friday, her earliest in 14 years, falling 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5 to China’s Wang Qiang in a stunning third-round upset that tore the women’s tournament open.

Wang, who was thrashed 6-1 6-0 by Williams in the U.S. Open quarter-finals, savoured sweet revenge on Rod Laver Arena to end the American’s bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, sending shockwaves through Melbourne Park.

A day before the Chinese New Year, 27th seed Wang wavered when serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was magnificent under pressure in the decider.

She broke Williams’s formidable serve to seal the thriller on the third match point when the American dumped a backhand into the net.
It was Williams’ earliest exit from the year’s first Grand Slam since 2006, when her title defence was ended by Daniela Hantuchova.

“I think my team always believe I can do it,” Wang said on-court. “After last (I played Serena), I did really hard work on the court and off the court, it’s really good work and I believed I could do it.

“During the second set I was a little bit confused but in my mind I knew I had to focus on the court, focus on every point.”

Wang, 28, said Chinese New Year celebrations would be on hold before her fourth round clash against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who knocked out Williams’s good friend and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, drawing the curtain on the retiring Dane’s career in tennis.

BARTY ON A ROLL

Ashleigh Barty expectations have not risen too high after she advanced to the second week of the Australian Open on Friday following a 6-3 6-2 third round victory over Elena Rybakina.

Barty is arguably the best chance of ending Australia’s long wait for a home-grown champion at the year’s first grand slam, having held the world’s top ranking since last September and with the Adelaide International title under her belt.

The 23-year-old made a stuttering start to the tournament on Monday but was imperious against the highly rated Rybakina, whose power hitting and big serve led to her first WTA title and propelled her into the top-40 last year.

“I think today was probably my sharpest match that I played,” Barty told reporters after the one hour, 18 minute match on Rod Laver Arena. “I felt really comfortable moving around the court. I felt like I found the middle of the racquet a lot sooner than my other matches. I felt like I could put the ball where I wanted to more often than not. Today (it) felt like it was cleaner than the other matches.”

Barty will now face either 18th-seeded American Alison Riske or doubles partner Julia Goerges in the fourth round.

WOZNIACKI BOWS OUT OF LAST-EVER GRAND SLAM

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki headed into retirement on Friday after a 7-5 3-6 7-5 third-round defeat at the hands of Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur ended her participation in the Australian Open.

The 29-year-old Dane said last year that Melbourne Park, where she won her lone Grand Slam title two years ago, would be the site of her final outing as a tennis professional.

Jabeur, who beat 12th seed Johanna Konta in the first round and former world number four Caroline Garcia in the second, ushered her out of the door with a barrage of 43 winners on Melbourne Arena.

Wozniacki’s final stroke as a tennis professional was a forehand which went long to send the Tunisian world number 78 into the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time.

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