Windy conditions and a lack of “feel” saw top players Serena Williams and Simona Halep make early-round exits at WTA events in Auckland and Shenzhen respectively on Wednesday.
The world No. 2 Williams racked-up almost 90 unforced errors during a 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4 loss to fellow American Madison Brengle in the second round at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
“You really have to go back to the drawing board, because it’s quite frankly unprofessional,” Williams said of her struggles in the wind. “Eighty-eight is way too many unforced errors. You can’t expect to win hitting that many errors.”
Brengle saw three match point opportunities go by before Williams handed the No. 72-ranked Brengle the match with a double fault.
“I can take solace in the fact the conditions won’t be like this in Melbourne,” Williams said. “This is almost not a great opportunity to assess your game, to be honest.”
The 26-year-old Brengle said the key was getting balls back.
“I just played for every point,” she said. “I tried to use the slice and hit as many balls as a I could.”
She advances to the quarterfinals and a meeting with No. 7 seed Jelena Ostapenko.
At the Shenzhen Open in China, the No. 2-seeded Halep was shocked by unseeded Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.
“I’m really happy that I won for me, because it was a very tough match,” Siniakova said. “When I walked onto court I was feeling that I could win and I just wanted to show my best. I was feeling a little bit of pressure in the final set and I’m so happy that I managed to come through and win the match.”
Siniakova had only once before beaten a Top 20 opponent.
Halep in her opening round had struggled past unseeded Jelena Jankovic in three sets.
“I think she played really well, she’s a strong player,” said Halep, who will next play at the Australian Open. “I’d never played against her before, she hits the ball hard, served good, so she deserved to win today. I was struggling a little bit. I didn’t really feel my game, but there is no excuses for that…It was hot, but I’m used to this heat already — I’ve been to Australia practicing. It’s a little bit tiring because it’s the second match of the year after a two-month break.”
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