AFPHONG KONG (AFP-Jiji) — Venus Williams suffered a shock exit in the second round of the WTA Hong Kong Open on Wednesday, comprehensively beaten 7-5, 6-2 by teenager Naomi Osaka.
Japan’s top-ranked player reeled off eight consecutive games at one stage to power into the quarterfinals.
It all seemed to be going to plan for second seed Williams when she broke the 19-year-old Osaka in the fifth game of the opening set.
But then the American’s first serve deserted her when serving for the set at 5-4.
Two double faults and a series of fierce ground strokes from Osaka that unerringly kissed the lines enabled the world No. 64 to break twice and take the set 7-5.
“She played well,” a disappointed 37-year-old Williams said.
“You know, I made a few errors at 5-4 and after that she played pretty flawless. I can only give her credit.”
Osaka, who made headlines when she knocked Angelique Kerber out of the U.S. Open in the first round last month, continued in the same vein at the start of the second set and raced into a 5-0 lead.
“I felt like I played offensively and hit really deep hard balls but she had the luck today and could return those balls even harder and deeper,” said Williams.
Williams briefly rallied to 5-2, but after a pep talk from Osaka’s coach, the Japanese refocused and closed out the match on her serve at the second time of asking after an hour and 24 minutes.
“Venus is someone I’ve respected and admired,” said Osaka, who was not born when Williams reached her first Grand Slam final at the 1997 U.S. Open.
“I’ve grown up watching her. Even though she [is] someone I admire, it’s just another opponent at the end of the day so I tried to focus hard.”
Earlier, the seventh seed Daria Gavrilova battled into the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 win over American Shelby Rogers.
Sloppy Federer survives
SHANGHAI (AFP-Jiji) — Roger Federer was uncharacteristically sloppy as he fended off dogged Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 to labor into the third round of the Shanghai Masters.
Federer next faces another potential banana skin in Ukrainian qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov on Thursday.