It was shocks all the way for the female stars on Friday at the Australian Open, as American ace, Serena Williams, the defending champion Naomi Osaka and Caroline Wozniacki all crashed out of the competition in the third round, following their respective shocks defeats in Melbourne.
Megasportsarena.com gathered that first to crash out was Serena, who admitted that she made too many errors as a professional, and the 38-year-old former champion lost 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5 to China’s 27th seeded Wang Qiang, who ended the favourites quest for a 24th Grand Slam singles title.
It was the reversal of a former setting, in which the seven-time champion in Melbourne beat the 28-year-old Wang in just 44 minutes at the US Open in September, when the Chinese player won only one game and 15 points.
That was not reflective of the ability of a player who has been a regular fixture in the world’s top 30 over the past 18 months and reached a career high of 12 after her run in New York, but the story was different on Thursday in Melbourne, after which Serena said: “I can’t play like that. I literally can’t do that again. That’s unprofessional. It’s not cool.”
Then followed Osaka, who was stunned by American teenager, Coco Gauff in straight sets, as the 15-year-old conqueror of Serena’s older sister, Venus Williams in the first round reached the fourth round with a 6-3 6-4 victory in 67 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Osaka, the world number four, struggled with unforced errors throughout – making 30 compared to Gauff’s 17, leaving the American youngster beaming with delight after the match, in contrast with emotional tears she shed last time she lost to Osaka at this same stage.
It was an uncharacteristically slow start for Japan’s Osaka, who had won the pair’s only previous meeting at last year’s US Open, but the 22-year-old could not contain Gauff in the first set, especially when the American was on serve.
Gauff completed 81% of her first serves compared to Osaka’s 61% and, despite the American lass making the quicker start, the pair each held serve until the ninth game when she seized her opportunity, and ended with a frenzy that caught even herself in a swirl of wild amazement.
Gauff exclaimed: “I don’t know where that came from. Honestly, like, what is my life? Two years ago I lost in the first round in juniors and now I’m here. I was telling myself one point at a time and keep fighting. You never know what happens on this court.”
Similarly, Wozniacki saw her hugely impressive career come to a close as she went out in the Australian Open third round, as the 29-year-old Wozniacki had earlier revealed her intention to retire in November, fittingly calling time at the venue where she won her only Grand Slam title.
Now ranked 36th, Wozniacki’s 15-year career ended with a 7-5 3-6 7-5 defeat by Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, after which the emotional Dane said on Melbourne Arena: “It has been a great ride. It is fitting my last match would be a three-setter, a grinder, and I’d finish my career with a forehand error. Those are the things I have been working on my whole career. I guess it was meant to be.”