An out-of-gas Serena Williams crashed out of the Western & Southern Open yesterday, losing in three sets to 13th seeded Maria Sakkari 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 in New York.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner finished with a whimper at the end of the two-hour, 17-minute match as Sakkari clinched the victory with a backhand down the line that a dejected Williams just watched without making an effort to move.
At other points in the match, Williams flung her racket into the spectator-less stands and rebuked the chair umpire for slapping her with a time violation.
Sakkari, of Greece, advances to the quarter-finals of the no-spectator event where she will face Johanna Konta who cruised past Vera Zvonareva in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.
The joint WTA and ATP tournament was moved from Cincinnati to New York where the same quarantine bubble will house the US Open starting on August 31.
It was the second straight two-hour-plus match for Williams who at 38 was trying to become the oldest winner of the event. She still holds the record, having won this event in 2015 at age 33.
Williams survived a scare in her opening match, prevailing in a two hour, 48-minute marathon over qualifier Arantxa Rus. It was her longest match since 2012.
"It is hard to play the way I have been playing and stay positive," Williams said. "To play nine hours in a week is too much. I don't usually play like that. It is all new for me."
In other women's action, fourth seeded Naomi Osaka rolled over Dayana Yastremska in straight sets 6-3, 6-1 to advance.
On the men's side, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic won his 20th straight match of 2020 with a hard-fought 6-2, 6-4 victory over Tennys Sandgren.
Djokovic, who captured the Australian Open in February, needed six match points to tough out the straight sets victory and reach the quarter-finals of the hardcourt tournament.
Djokovic advances to the quarters where he will play German Jan-Lennard Struff, who defeated seventh seed David Goffin 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
Also on the men's side, hard-serving Canadian Milos Raonic routed Brit Andy Murray 6-2, 6-2 and third seeded Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, swept past Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-3.*AFP
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