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Australian Open: Simona Halep, Venus Williams dumped out in opening round

Melbourne: World No 2 Simona Halep and veteran Venus Williams went crashing out of the Australian Open first round yesterday as a dramatic day of upsets grabbed attention away from a match-fixing controversy which has left tennis reeling.

Romania's Simona Halep returns to China's Zhang Shuai
Romania's Simona Halep returns to China's Zhang Shuai

Halep, the women's world number two, in an almighty upset, lost to Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai, who wept freely as she won her first Grand Slam match in 15 attempts.

While Halep lost to World No 133 Zhang 4-6, 3-6, seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus went down to British No 1 Johanna Konta 4-6, 2-6.

USA's Venus Williams during a break in her match against Britain's Johanna Konta. Pics/AFP
USA's Venus Williams during a break in her match against Britain's Johanna Konta. Pics/AFP

Williams (35) was the oldest player in the women's draw but Konta said it would be "silly" to focus on the American's age. "It's irrelevant how old she is because she's such a champion with so much experience and knowledge about the game," said Konta.

Double bagel
Meanwhile, two-time champ Victoria Azarenka served up a double bagel beating Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 6-0, 6-0 in just 53 minutes.

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