Australian Open 20185: Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens crash out in 1st round

The 20-year-old Bencic saved five break points in the eighth game before a rain delay caused an nearly half-hour suspension of play as the roof was closed on Rod Laver Arena.

The 2017 finalist was gracious in defeat to the 20-year-old Swiss.

Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov - who beat qualifier Dennis Novak 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 - No. 6 Marin Cilic, No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta, No. 23 Gilles Muller, No. 24 Diego Schwartzman, No. 28 Damir Dzumhur, No. 30 Andrei Rublev and No. 31 Pablo Cuevas all advanced.

Bencic warmed up for the Australian Open by combining with Roger Federer to win the Hopman Cup for Switzerland. Federer's parents were in the crowd supporting Bencic.

With the clear mind stuck at winning the match, Bencic was getting to Venus with her aggressive strokes until the seventh game before a rain shower halted the interesting match for 20 minutes.

"Even now, I think it's wonderful he's giving me advice, trying to give me tips, help me, like, looking how I'm doing". "I've lost to John the last two times and he's so tough to beat but I got huge positivity from the crowd and I feel great and full of energy".

"Obviously just happy to be back playing". It was a very, very long time when I was out.

Stephens came back from a long-term injury to record her US Open victory but has struggled since with form and fitness. I think everyone else makes a bigger deal about it than what I do personally.

"I think (before) I had a little bit too much respect, played a little bit careful and safe", Bencic, who was a toddler when Venus won her first grand slam at Wimbledon in 2000, told reporters. "That's why I see things more relaxed at a later stage of my career". Also tactically be smart on the court. You really have to be on the limit of your game. "I tried to do that today".

Second seed behind Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer is resisting pressure to accept status as favorite: "I play down my chances just because I don't think a 36-year-old should be a favorite of a tournament", he said Sunday. I appreciate that I can just play - I'm not thinking so much about winning or losing.

And just like that, following a press session she wanted no part of, Williams - in perhaps her most nimble move of the day - was gone. She clinched it when Williams, who had slipped on the far side of the court, couldn't get to a ball in the open corner. The young Swiss tennis star has reached the fourth round of play before at the Australian Open. "This is a new year. I mean, c'mon, that's not my fault", she argued with the chair umpire. There was nothing I could do there. Her company, V Starr Interiors, just signed a deal to design the first apartments for a global home-sharing residential complex run by Airbnb.

Reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens was the first seed put on the casualty list.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens takes on China's Zhang Shuai while American big-hitter CoCo Vandeweghe, a semi-finalist past year at Melbourne Park and Flushing Meadow, opens her account against Hungary's Timea Babos.

Bencic, who lost to Serena in straights sets at the same stage a year ago, said she had received a huge confidence boost by having 19-time Grand Slam champion Federer rooting for her.

"I came out a little bit slow in the first couple games of the second, but I got it back. It taught me a lot, this frustrating time", the Swiss player said. "Not going to get too down". Everyone is so depressed and so down. "I'm going to beat someone eventually".

  • Rosalie Stanley