Jolt for Ser­ena’s prepa­ra­tion

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

SER­ENA Wil­liams’ Aus­tralian Open prepa­ra­tion suf­fered a jolt with fel­low Amer­i­can Madi­son Bren­gle stun­ning the world num­ber two 6-4, 6-7(3),6-4 in the sec­ond round of the Auck­land Clas­sic yes­ter­day.

Play­ing her first tour­na­ment since her semi-fi­nal loss at the US Open last Septem­ber, Ser­ena was left to rue the 88 un­forced er­rors she made in the con­test against an op­po­nent 70 rungs lower in the WTA rank­ings.

“I re­ally think I played - I’m try­ing to think of a word that’s not ob­scene - but that’s how I played,” she said.

“Eighty eight un­forced er­rors is too much, just way too many. It’s a lot. I can’t ex­pect to win hit­ting that many er­rors,” said the 35-year-old who had con­stant trou­ble with her ball toss in the swirling wind.

Bren­gle was trail­ing 1-4 be­fore she staged a bril­liant come­back to run away with the first set against the 22-times grand slam sin­gles cham­pion who had tri­umphed 6-0, 6-1 in their only pre­vi­ous meet­ing in 2015.

Ser­ena was a set and 4-3 down when she made a come­back of her own to clinch the tie-breaker and force the de­cider.

The third set went on serve un­til the 10th game when Bren­gle held two match points, only for Ser­ena to fight off both and slump in relief when she hit a cross­court fore­hand to get back to deuce.

Bren­gle strode con­fi­dently across court, se­cured her third match point and stared in dis­be­lief as Ser­ena dou­ble-faulted to hand her the big­gest vic­tory of her ca­reer.

“I’ve never re­turned like that in my life. It’s a lit­tle frus­trat­ing, es­pe­cially since I worked so hard in the off-sea­son, but at least the con­di­tions won’t be like this in Mel­bourne,” Ser­ena said.

“She ob­vi­ously did a much bet­ter job than I did. I re­ally ab­horred the con­di­tions. I don’t think I’ve ever hit 88 er­rors in my ca­reer. I could google that and that’s prob­a­bly ac­cu­rate. So there’s no need to look back on such a crappy game.”

Bren­gle meets sev­enth seed Je­lena Ostapenko in the quar­ter-fi­nals.

“Hon­estly I don’t know (how I won),” the 26-year-old Amer­i­can said. “It’s so cool. It’s what you dream about, play­ing the best in the world.”

Ear­lier, Ser­ena’s sis­ter Venus downed lo­cal favourite Jade Lewis 7-6(2) 6-2 be­fore with­draw­ing with a right arm in­jury.

“I love this tour­na­ment and I’m re­ally sad that I have to with­draw

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