News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Venus Williams loses opener in Paris

Wang Qiang: stuns Venus Williams in opening match in Roland Garros

Venus Williams, 2002 finalist and 9th seeded player was sent home today in Roland Garros by 85th ranked Chinese Wang Qiang.

It was the first major upset of the 2018 French Open, before Putintseva Yulia also saw off Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-3. Wang won in straight sets 6-4, 7-5.

The former Top 50 player had lost to Williams in the first round in Paris last year, as well as in the second round of Wimbledon one month later. But Wang reversed those results to claim the second Top 10 win of her career after one hour and 40 minutes of play.

The 26-year-old Chinese player played a clean match with a sterling combination of potent aggression and exceptional footspeed. Wang had 19 winners in the match to only 14 unforced errors, while the 28 winners from the racquet of Williams were negated by 35 miscues.

Wang will now face Croatia’s Petra Martic in the second round. Martic, who reached the fourth round of Roland Garros last year and sits just outside of the seedings this year at World No.35, dispatched another Chinese player, Wang Yafan, 6-2, 6-3, earlier on Sunday.

It became apparent from the first game of the match that this would be a hard-fought, closely contested affair. In a 12-minute game, Williams saved five break points before Wang converted her sixth chance to take the very early lead. But any momentum Wang could have taken from that fight quickly dissipated when Williams immediately broke back for 1-1.

The combatants held serve straight through to 4-4, with only one break point, against Williams, seen in that stretch. But in that 4-4 game, Williams hit some untimely groundstroke errors, and double faulted while down double break point to hand Wang a 5-4 advantage.

The Chinese player refused to succumb to any pressure while serving for the set, and reached double set point after a long backhand error from Williams. Wang then worked over the Williams backhand for multiple shots in a row before slamming a backhand to the opposite side of the court to force a forehand error and clinch the opening frame.

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