Australian Open underway with exits for Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens

Bencic sends Venus packing on bleak day for America at Australia Open

Bencic sends Venus packing on bleak day for America at Australia Open

The Swiss struck first in a tight opening set that saw the first six games go comfortably to the server as both players took the time to feel each other out.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion departed in straight sets as Swiss 20-year-old Bencic followed up her recent Hopman Cup win alongside compatriot Federer with a stunning 6-3, 7-5 victory in just under two hours on Rod Laver Arena.

The seventh seed raced through the first set on Rod Laver Arena against the veteran Italian who was bizarrely wearing a back brace on the outside of her shirt, before a tougher second set.

She yelled an obscenity near the end of the second set and that, combined with a time violation in a changeover while she waited for a banana, led to a point penalty. After an 11-month injury layoff, she roared back to win her first major singles title in NY. "I mean, c'mon, that's not my fault", she argued with the chair umpire. "That's why I see things more relaxed at a later stage of my career".

It was also a matter of felling a seven-times grand slam-winning idol, having never won a set against her in four previous matches. Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov swept Dennis Novak.

Goerges, a 29-year-old German, ended the year with tournament wins at Moscow and Zhuhai, then began 2018 with a win over Caroline Wozniacki in the final of the ASB Classic at Auckland, New Zealand.

Home hope Nick Kyrgios launched his campaign with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 demolition of Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva to continue his bright start to the year.

Vandeweghe was leading in her first set before the rain delay on Hisense Arena, but sickness and irritation caught up with her.

Joining the fifth-seeded Williams in the exit lounge was No.10 seed and 2017 semi-finalist Coco Vandeweghe, who went down 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 to Hungarian Timea Babos in a controversial encounter. The 2018 Australian Open proved to be an American nightmare on Day 1 as the Top 3 US seeds exited Melbourne, some in ugly fashion. Shuai won 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2. That's why last year's final had such a sense of occasion, even if the result was utterly predictable.

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"I think (before) I had a little bit too much respect, played a little bit careful and safe", Bencic, who was a toddler when Venus won her first grand slam at Wimbledon in 2000, told reporters. Also tactically be smart on the court.

But Bencic was not to be denied, coming from 0-30 on the Williams serve at 6-5 with the help of a ferocious backhand victor to get to match point and secured a famous victory.

Crestfallen, Venus's post-match news conference wrapped up quickly, with short responses and a sombre monotone.

"I don't think I played a bad match".

"I'm not going to get too down", she said after her 2-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 defeat.

But the Swiss was not to be denied and put the pressure back on the Williams serve and levelled on her third break point.

Other players orchestrating upsets on Day 1 in Melbourne were Estonia's Kaia Kanepi rolling over No. 24 Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2, the Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk likewise easing past No. 25 Peng Shuai 6-2, 6-2, and Romania's Irina Camelia-Begu outlasting No. 31 Ekaterina Makarova 3-6, 6-4, 8-6.

Bhambri is yet to win a round in the main draw of a Grand Slam and the Australian Open is the only Major he has played.

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