Something about Venus Williams was shocking today in Melbourne and I'm not just talking about her sneaky pink shorts.
The Wimbledon champ put in a shaky performance down the stretch against '07 Roland Garros quarterfinalist Carla Suarez Navarro in the second round and was unceremoniously dumped out 6-2, 3-6, 5-7 after holding a 5-2 lead and a match point in the deciding set. The Spaniard will battle compatriot Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez for a spot in the Round of 16.
Though the stats of the two lady ballers were relatively even (28-26 winners, 37-32 errors, 60-63 first serve percentage, 5 double faults each), V admitted the Spaniard was the better baller in the crucial moments:
Q. Do you think maybe you played a little bit too defensively in the third set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I wasn't in control of the points. I definitely noticed that she kept getting the first shot. I was definitely playing defense. I'm definitely used to dictating the points a little bit more. It was kind of a pattern that wasn't the best for me.
Q. How heavy were her balls?
VENUS WILLIAMS: She hit a lot of good balls. I felt like I was hitting my balls a little too short. I think she was taking good advantage of that.
Q. Were you feeling a hundred percent out there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Like I said, I think she just played well. Really, really played well.
It was V's earliest exit from Melbourne since 2006 when she went down to Tszvetana Pironkova in the first round.
Oh Boy. There are going to be a few bookies, pundits, and fans alike who'll be kicking themselves after hearing this news today as she was a top pick to take home her first Aussie Open crown. However, as I mentioned in my preview, the 28-year old has only made the final once in 10 attempts and is traditionally a slow starter to the season. Regardless, this loss is a major upset.
But a huge congrats to Carla on the tremendous win and I hope she carries this momentum far into the tourney!
Rich Rodriguez writes the tennis blog Down the Line!