Venus beaten, Azarenka opens WTA account

Venus Williams has been knocked out of the Western & Southern Open in a first-round defeat while Victoria Azarenka advanced in the WTA event.

VICTORIA AZARENKA of Belarus.
VICTORIA AZARENKA of Belarus. Picture: Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

Venus Williams has suffered a tight three-set defeat to 16th seed Dayana Yastremska to exit the Western & Southern Open from the first round in New York.

The 40-year-old Williams, ranked 65 in the world, recovered from a 2-4 deficit in the opening set to take the lead but dropped the next two to the big-hitting Ukrainian, falling 5-7 6-2 7-5 in two hours and 36 minutes.

Yastremska was broken while serving for the match at 5-4 in the decider but recovered immediately, staving off three break points at 6-5 to advance.

The 20-year-old Ukrainian, who hit a career-high ranking of 21 earlier this year following her runner-up showing in Adelaide, required medical attention for a twisted ankle multiple times during the match.

But she hung on to claim a hard-fought victory and next plays American left-hander Bernarda Pera.

Former champion Victoria Azarenka started her campaign with an emphatic 6-2 6-3 victory over No.15 seed Donna Vekic.

Azarenka needed just over an hour in New York to seal her first WTA victory of 2020.

Before the tour's shutdown, the two-time Australian Open champion lost her opening match in Acapulco to Tamara Zidansek, and was beaten last week by Williams.

But she kicked off her third tournament of 2020 with a 71-minute win over the world No.24 - her first victory in a completed match over a top 30 player since May, 2019, in Rome.

The tournament lost one of its marquee names when 13th-seeded Maria Sakkari dispatched Coco Gauff 6-1 6-3 to spoil the 16-year-old American's Western & Southern debut.

After a run to the Lexington semi-finals last week, Gauff was put under pressure by her Greek opponent, committing 24 unforced errors and hitting only six winners.

Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova has toppled ninth seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan 7-5 7-6 (8-6) in another upset.