Serena Williams was sensationally knocked out of the Australian Open third spherical by China’s Wang Qiang on Friday, torpedoing her bid for a record-equalling twenty fourth Grand Slam crown.
Williams, 38, was the bookies’ favorite to win an eighth title at Melbourne Park however she got here unstuck in opposition to a decided Wang, who took just one recreation off the American final time they met.
The 6-4, 6/7 (2/7), 7-5 upset means Williams, whose final Major win was on the 2017 Australian Open when she was pregnant, has fallen brief at eight Grand Slams since coming back from having a child in 2018.
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“I think my team always believed I can do it,” mentioned twenty seventh seed Wang, who misplaced 6-1, 6-0 to Williams in final yr’s US Open quarter-finals.
“After last time I did really hard work on and off-court, I believed I could do it.”
Her reward is a conflict with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who upset Williams’ shut buddy Caroline Wozniacki, sending the Dane into retirement.
Williams, seeded eight, began slowly in opposition to the quick, optimistic Wang, and she or he was three break factors down within the ninth recreation when Wang punched away a forehand to seize the break.
Serving for the set, Wang received a full-blooded rally to carry up set level after which sealed it to go one arrange — a far cry from their final assembly in New York.
Williams got here out firing for the second set however her possibilities plunged when she was damaged to go 3-2 down, and it appeared throughout when she let Wang off the hook on breakpoint within the eighth.
However, Wang wobbled when she was serving for the match and Williams received a titanic 24-shot rally to interrupt the Chinese participant for the primary time, elevating her arms in triumph.
Williams staved off extra break factors earlier than dominating the tie-breaker, the place she benefited from one other internet twine and a Hawk-Eye overview earlier than levelling the match with a service winner.
In the tense last set, each gamers held agency however Wang pounced when Williams was serving to remain in it, changing her third match level because the American netted.
Wang obtained a torrent of criticism from Chinese followers after her capitulation to Williams within the final eight at Flushing Meadows.
The 28-year-old from Tianjin has now achieved her deepest Australian Open run, after reaching the third spherical final yr — a prelude to her greatest Major efficiency, on the US Open.