Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open

Wimbledon déjà vu for Williams as Venus suffers stunning Hong Kong Tennis Open collapse

Second seed suffers shock defeat by 19-year-old Naomi Osaka, losing eight straight games after leading by a break in the first set

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 October, 2017, 7:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 October, 2017, 9:53am

The painful memory of this summer’s Wimbledon final is one Venus Williams likely hoped she could quickly shake out of her head.

But there was a sense of déjà vu in Victoria Park on Wednesday as she crumbled from a break up in the first set to lose eight straight games – one less than the nine in a row she lost to Garbine Muguruza after holding a similar lead in July – in a 7-5, 6-2 defeat by Japan’s Naomi Osaka.

With it went a place in the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open quarter-finals, and her disappointment was palpable.

“She played well, I made a few errors at 5-4,” Williams told a post-match press conference. “But after that she played pretty solid so I have to give her credit.

“She just played really well. I wish her luck for the rest of the tournament.”

Asked if the humid conditions had influenced her performance, Williams replied, “I like hot weather.”

World No 62 Osaka was certainly worth her win, but Williams, who was seeking a maiden title of the season ahead of the WTA Finals in Singapore, was well below her best, making seven double faults and winning just 35 per cent of points on her second serve.

Osaka, 18 years Williams’ junior at 19, was born in Japan a month after Williams made her first grand slam final at the 1997 US Open.

She was clinical, taking five of her 10 break points to dump out the second seed in what was one of the biggest wins of her career.

“It’s a little bit of pressure to see her across the net,” said Osaka. “Especially since I’ve been watching her since I was little.

“I’m really glad I had the opportunity to play her. I just hope to keep playing on this high level so that I can play many players that I’ve watched.”

Williams got the early break and consolidated to go ahead 4-2 in the opening set, but Osaka broke back to level at 5-5 and didn’t look back.

The American seven-time grand slam singles winner at least managed to stop the rot and get on the scoreboard in the second set at 5-1, and even threatened an unlikely comeback with another break.

Osaka spoke to her coach at the change of ends and his encouragement seemed to steady her nerves as she came out firing and broke Williams again to seal the stunning upset victory in one hour and 24 minutes.

Osaka was joined in the quarter-finals by Daria Gavrilova, who saw off Shelby Rogers 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 in the day’s first match.

The last time the two met, they played out the longest women’s match in US Open history.

But it was a little bit briefer than three hours and 33 minutes this time around, the Australian gaining a measure of revenge for her defeat at Flushing Meadows.

“I was pretty motivated, I wanted to get the win against her,” said Gavrilova.

“I mean, I was sure it wasn’t going to be as long as it was at the US Open, but it still ended up being three sets.”

Gavrilova battled the humidity to win in one hour and 44 minutes.

“I knew it was going to be really hot and it’s really energy draining,” she added. “You have to do right things to cool down at the change of ends, take care of all the small things.”

Later on Wednesday, Gavrilova’s compatriot Samantha Stosur also progressed with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 win against fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

It marks Stosur’s best run at a tournament since returning from a right hand injury for the Asia swing, after she missed Wimbledon and the US Open.

“It’s certainly the best I’ve felt out on court since starting four weeks ago,” she said. “I was feeling good playing there tonight and that’s the way I want to keep playing.

“It would’ve been good if it happened four weeks ago but I still had a bit to do. It’s just nice to finish the year playing well and being on a court doing what you want to be doing.

“The whole idea of trying to get back for Asia was to try and play as many matches as I could before the end of the year.”

Stosur will next play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who beat Jacqueline Cako of the US 7-6 (7-3), 6-1.


Centre Court

From 3pm

Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) vs Nicole Gibbs (US) 

Jennifer Brady (US) vs [8] Zhang Shuai (China)

Not before 7pm

[3] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) vs Lizette Cabrera (Australia)

[1] Chan Hao-ching (Taiwan)/Chan Yung-jan (Taiwan) vs Eugenie Bouchard (Canada)/Shelby Rogers (US)

Court One

From 3pm

Luksika Kumkhum (Thailand) vs Wang Qiang (China)

[4] Eri Hozumi (Japan)/Miyu Kato (Japan) vs Katherine Ip (Hong Kong)/Zhang Ling (Hong Kong) 

After suitable rest

Luksika Kumkhum (Thailand)/Peangtarn Plipuech (Thailand) vs Lu Jingjing (China)/Wang Qiang (China)