Williams ousted by compatriot
The Williams sisters depart from Auckland while Roger Federer shrugs off a defeat in the Hopman Cup but both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic continue on their way to a possible final clash in Doha.
I can take solace in the fact that the conditions won’t be like this in Melbourne
The big shock of the day came from Auckland where the former world number one, Serena Williams, crashed out of the ASB Classic in just the second round.
The match, her second since the US Open last year, was played in blustery conditions which did not suit the American and she was unable to adapt as well as she did in her opening match.
She lost 6-7(3) 6-4 to fellow American Madison Brengle and immediately declared At least I can get out of these conditions.
She added: "I would say it’s my least favourite conditions I’ve ever played in. Again my opponent played in the exact same conditions. She was able to adjust better than me. I really abhorred these conditions.
"I can take solace in the fact that the conditions won’t be like this in Melbourne. This is almost not a great opportunity to assess your game to be honest. I’m trying to think of a word for (my performance) that’s not obscene, but I can’t."
Having had her preparations for the Australian Open cut short, she travels to Melbourne still determined to win that elusive grand slam title which will take her past Steffi GrafÈs open record of 22.
Williams made 88 unforced errors during that match, including a double fault on match point.
"You can’t expect to win hitting that many errors … I never got in my rhythm, she said. I didn’t hit any returns in the vicinity of the court. I’ve never returned like that in my life.
"So it was a little frustrating, especially since I worked so hard in the off-season."
It was BrengleÈs first win against the formidable powerhouse in what was just their second meeting having lost their previous encounter when she just won one game.
"I just tried to concentrate on every point and run down every ball," Brengle said. "It was difficult conditions … I tried to use the slice and get as many balls back as I could and it ended up working out."
Later Venus Williams announced she was withdrawing from the event citing an arm injury just before she was due to take to the court for her second round match against JapanÈs Naomi Osaka.
There was also a loss for Roger Federer in the Hopman Cup, an exhibition tournament being held in Perth though the Swiss team went on to defeat Germany. Federer went down to German teenager Alexander Zverev 7-6 6-7 7-6.
"Who really cares," the 35-year-old Swiss star said. "As long as I am playing injury free and feeling good.
I actually pulled up really good after the first match and the mixed, the next day, so this one will feel different. I’ll feel muscle pain, which is also one of the reasons why I came here, to have that pain in my body, so hopefully if I do have a tough match at the beginning in Melbourne I don’t have to go through it as extreme over there.
"I’m very happy. I have played five good sets so far. I am very pleased."
Better news form Doha where both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic successfully reached the quarter-finals on route, as the eventÈs top two seeds, to their prospective clash in the final.
Murray though, was kept on court for two hours and 23 minutes by AustriaÈs Gerald Melzer, the world No.68 before eventual closing it out 7-6(6) 7-5.
The world No.1 told his 26 year-old opponent as they shook hands at the net: If you keep playing like this, youÈll go higher and higher in the rankings.
Murray, following his 26th consecutive victory, now goes on to face SpainÈs Nicolas Almagro.
In contrast Djokovic was hardly troubled by ArgentinaÈs world No71 Horacio Zeballos, requiring just 71-minutes to defeat him 6-3 6-4 to set up a quarter-final against his good friend, the 38-year-old Radek Stepanek.
While Melzer was no doubt delighted by MurrayÈs remarks, Zeballos in contrast turned to Djokovic on his way out of the court to take a selfie of them both!
It was quite nice. I mean, nice surprise. I never experienced that in, letÈs say, official tournament. Quite a creative idea, Djokovic said of ZeballosÈ surprising action.
I think todayÈs selfie is a nice example about how one person and a player can leave whatever behind is behind. It was just minute or two after we shook hands. He was already over his lost match and he moved into doing something different. I applaud him for that. I think it was a really nice gesture.