Former World No 1 Venus Williams was outlasted in 3 sets by Anna Karolina Schmiedlova from Slovakia in a shock defeat of the 39-year old American at the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey on Monday.
It's one of the best wins of my life. I'm very happy it happened here in Monterrey. I came here from qualifying, just to be here to play someone as great as Venus Williams, so I'm very thankful. I haven't had an easy last year and beginning of this year, so I'm grateful for every win. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova
Schmiedlova, who has been ranked as high as 29, came through 4-6 6-3 6-2, handing Williams her 5th straight first round defeat since the China Open last autumn, after rallying from a set down to advance in 2 hours and 29 minutes..
“It’s one of the best wins of my life,” Schmiedlova said during her on-court interview. “I’m very happy it happened here in Monterrey.
“I came here from qualifying, just to be here to play someone as great as Venus Williams, so I’m very thankful.
“I haven’t had an easy last year and beginning of this year, so I’m grateful for every win.”
Schmiedlova kickstarted an injury comeback after 6 months away from the game and has seen her ranking swing up and down in recent years, falling back to the outer reaches of the Top 200 after a knee injury ended her season after Wimbledon.
Williams shrugged off a break point in the opening game to surge ahead 5-1, employing deft angles and effortless power along the way, but was pegged back as the Slovak narrowed the gap.
“I started with a lot of respect, which is something you can expect when you’re playing someone as good as Venus,” Schmiedlova said. “I needed to get a little more confident and calm.
“Then, I started to play better at the end of the first set.”
Schmiedlova saved 3 set points on the 7-time major champion’s serve at 5-4 and although she lost that set, the Slovak was in the match, edging past Williams as she converted her 2nd set point to level the match.
She carried that momentum into the final set, holding to love to move ahead 3-0 as a double fault from Williams helped earn her a second break in the very next game.
While Williams put on a brave last stand, getting on the board and narrowing the lead to just one break behind some vintage aggression, Schmiedlova chased down a backhand return and smacked a cross court forehand winner for a 5-2 lead.
Earning a match point when Williams pushed a backhand long, Schmiedlova secured victory with one last forehand winner that seared up the line.
Awaiting the 25-year-old in the second round is No 9 seed Marie Bouzkova, who eased past Schmiedlova’s compatriot Kristina Kucova in straight sets earlier in the day, 6-4 6-2.
Also through is 5th-seeded Sloan Stephens, who eventually outpaced fellow American Emma Navarro, 6-4 5-7 6-1.
Both were wild-carded into the main draw but it was Stephens who prevailed after 2 hours 16 minutes.
Stephens looked on course for a straightforward victory after leading Navarro by a set and 2-0, but a fightback from the underdog forced proceedings into a decider that was dominated by the more experienced seeded player.
“Obviously it has been a tough start to the season, but I am really pleased to get a win here and play some better tennis this week.” Stephens said during her on-court interview.
“Playing an American is always through so I knew coming in that it was going to be a tough match and I just tried to play my best. I thought it was a good match, a lot of chances and I’m just happy to get through,” she added.
Stephens, who has dropped to 37th in the world rankings, converted 6 out of 25 break point opportunities and dropped her own serve 3 times in total, while her first service success of 70% was significantly better than her second service rate of 34%.
Playing on Tuesday is Heather Watson, who will be on court at 5pm UK time against Tatjana Maria, while Johanna Konta’s much anticipated evening match with Kim Clijsters is scheduled for 2am.
All matches can be viewed on Amazon Prime.