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Serena, Osaka beaten, as Tunisia’s Jabeur moves on

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Coco Gauff (R) of the US and Japan’s Naomi Osaka leave the court at the end of their women’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 24, 2020. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

Serena Williams was halted in her quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title by China’s Qiang Wang, while Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki lost her last career match to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, 7/5; 3/6; 7/5.

The defending champion, Naomi Osaka, from Japan, was booted out by the youthful sensation, Coco Gauff of the United States.

It could have been regarded as a routine match for Serena who had conceded only one game in her previous encounter with Wang at the 2019 US Open. This time, however, in their third-round match, Wang matched Serena in service games until she broke her opponent’s serve to lead 5-4 and then served out the set 6/4.

In the second set, Serena raced to 40-0 but Wang hit two winners to reduce tally game ended. Wang hit an ace to level. Games went on with the server until Serena lost the fifth game and Wang held for 4-2 and also 5-3.

Serena held serve to stay in the set. Serving for the second set and match, Wang faced break threat at 30-40 and Serena hammered a forehand winner to level. The Chinese lady dropped only one point in taking her to serve in the twelfth game. In the tiebreak, Wang lost the third point and double-faulted on the fourth. After the change of ends, it was all Serena as she led by 7 points to 2.

Each lady held serve for eleven games and Wang led 6-5. Serving to save the match, Serena lost the first two points for 0-30 and faced the first match point at 15-40. She fought back to deuce but could not save the third match point when she hit a backhand shot into the net. The epic match ended 6/4; 6/7(2); 6/4 after 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Gauff broke Naomi in the eighth game and held to take the first set 6-3. The teenager opened serving in the second set and held easily. Osaka held to level 1 game apiece. Although led 40-30 on her serve, she lost the first game point and then got deuced when her drop shot was run down for a winner. That breather enabled the defending champion to break back and she held serve to lead 2-1.

In the sixth game, Gauff delivered the first ace of the match to reach 40-15 and won when a service into Naomi’s body was returned out. At 0-30 in the seventh game, Naomi hit a short ball into the net to concede a break. Serving with new balls, Coco delivered a second ball wide and her opponent missed the return. At 30-0, a sliced shot by Coco was hit over the baseline.

In the ninth game, a successful challenge gave Naomi the first point and she reached 30-0 with a forehand winner. She dropped the next three points and the game for 4-5. Serving for the match, Coco’s first serve was returned out, as was the next serve for 30-0. An unsuccessful challenge by Naomi led to a match point. The match ended 6/3; 6/4 when Naomi’s forehand landed in the net.

In the on-court interview, Coco said: “2 years ago, I lost in the first round of the juniors. Now I am here and it’s crazy.”


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