Wow. Just wow. It wasn’t merely that the American women are falling like flies early at the 2018 Australian Open. It’s that they’re falling so very early. The entire tournament was only a few hours old when three out of the four 2017 US Open Women’s singles semi-finalists were already gone. Venus Williams. Gone. Coco Vandeweghe. Gone. The 2017 US Open champion, Sloane Stephens. Gone. Somebody quickly sprinkle some fairy dust on Madison Keys so that my favorite player in the world can stick around in Melbourne more than two or three sets. There were four or five other Americans that also lost their first match including Alison Riske and Taylor Townsend. But I do want to say one thing about Venus and her loss. Actually, let me say two things. Venus caught a very bad Break by drawing Belinda Bencic. Bencic has been playing really great since the end of last year through the beginning of this year. She’s been playing better than she was before her injuries, and she was top 10 level at her height before the injuries. She was playing top five level tennis against Venus in the first round in Melbourne. There are no excuses obviously, but I have to look at Venus’s loss a little differently than some of the other women who fell in the first round. And the second thing I would say about Venus and her loss is just an acknowledgement of how classy she was and what great sportsmanship she showed towards Belinda after the match and in the press. Venus is a champion on and off the court.
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BELINDA BENCIC d. 5 Venus Williams, 6-3 7-5
23 DARIA GAVRILOVA d. Irina Falconi, 6-1 6-1
MARTA KOSTYUK d. 25 Peng Shuai, 6-2 6-2