Williams, Stephens crash out in first round

Venus Williams crashed out of the Australian Open in the first round on Monday, losing to Belinda Bencic in straight sets.

Williams, 37, made the final last year before losing to sister Serena, but there was to be no repeat this year as her 20-year old Swiss opponent triumphed 6-3, 7-5 to move into the second round.

The defeat means that the Australian Open will not feature a Williams sister in the second round for the first time in 21 years.

Earlier in the day, US Open champion and 13th seed Sloane Stephens also went out after losing in three sets to China’s Zhang Shuai.

Stephens, who hasn’t won a singles match since her victory at Flushing Meadows, started well winning the first set 6-2 and served for the match at 5-4 in the second before being pegged back by Zhang, who broke serve and then took the second set 7-2 in the tiebreak.

The Chinese player then closed out the match, taking the third set 6-2 to make the second round.

A second grand slam winner from 2017 fared better as seventh seed and reigning Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko eased into the second round with a straight sets win over Francesca Schiavone of Italy.

The Latvian wrapped up a regulation win over the 37-year old veteran, winning 6-1, 6-4 to set up a second-round tie with Duan Ying-Ying of China.

Meanwhile, another American suffered an early exit as 10th seed Coco Vandeweghe went down to Hungary’s Timea Babos 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.

In other action, Julia Goerges (12) of Germany defeated Sofia Kenin of the US 6-4, 6-4.

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