Melbourne: In her first match at the Australian Open since a Williams sister was guaranteed to win the title, Venus Williams lost in the first round to Belinda Bencic and ensured it cannot happen in 2018.
Venus lost last year's final at Melbourne Park to younger sibling Serena, who clinched an Open era-record 23rd major but hasn't played a Grand Slam tournament since because of her pregnancy and the birth of her first child.
The 6-3, 7-5 loss for Venus Williams was her first in five career meeting with Bencic, who lost to Serena Williams in the first round here last year.
The 20-year-old Bencic saved five break points in the eighth game before a rain delay caused an almost half-hour suspension of play as the roof was closed on Rod Laver Arena. She returned on a roll, winning the next six points to hold serve and then clinch the set.
Bencic teamed up with Roger Federer to win the Hopman Cup for Switzerland in the first week of the season, and had the 19-time major winner's parents in the crowd supporting her on Monday.
It must have helped, having overcome the surprise when the draw was made that she'd have to play another Williams in the first round.
"Honestly, the first reaction of everyone was 'Oh, bad luck.' But of course, it would be nice to play somebody easier first round and get your rhythm a little bit," Bencic said.
"It's amazing, when I was a little girl, I was watching them on TV. I never thought I'd get a chance to play them."
Williams' exit followed US Open champion Sloane Stephens' 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 loss to Zhang Shuai.
French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko made a positive start with a 6-1, 6-4 win over 37-year-old Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open winner.
Vandeweghe ousted in straight sets
Tenth seed and last year's semi-finalist CoCo Vandeweghe was sent packing in the first round on a horror day for American players.
Vendeweghe, who also made the last four at the US Open in 2017, was knocked out by Hungary's Timea Babos 7-6 (4), 6-2.
Hungarian world number 51 Babos took just an hour an 46 minutes to oust a tetchy Vandeweghe, who complained to the umpire after dropping the first set about a lack of bananas on the Hisense Arena court.
Coached by former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, the American committed 28 unforced errors.
US Open finalist Anderson out in five-setter
Britain's Kyle Edmund knocked out US Open finalist Kevin Anderson in a five-set thriller.
The 49th-ranked Edmund, who lost to 11th seeded Anderson in five sets in the third round at last year's French Open, toughed out a 6-7 (7), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win in almost four hours.
It is only the second time he has reached the second round in Melbourne, while South African Anderson, who lost the 2017 Flushing Meadows final to Rafael Nadal, had made the round of 16 in Australia three times.
The victory set Edmund up with a second round encounter with Uzbek journeyman Denis Istomin.
Edmund is the only British man in the main draw after five-times finalist Andy Murray pulled out with a hip injury.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Jan 15, 2018 10:50 AM | Updated Date: Jan 15, 2018 10:53 AM