Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Venus Williams’s strong start to the tennis season ended with a loss to No. 22 seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russia in the opening round of the Australian Open. Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, was upset by Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand.
Williams, an American who is No. 37 in the world rankings and was not seeded at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, led 3-0 in the final set before losing 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in her 55th career match at the Australian Open. Kumkhum, ranked 82 places below the sixth-seeded Kvitova, defeated the Czech player in three sets.
Williams, 33, had four straight wins before losing to Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic in the final of a warmup tournament in Auckland, New Zealand. Williams had eight double faults and 56 unforced errors in today’s match against the 25-year-old Makarova, who had 26 unforced errors.
“I was hitting the ball well this week, and obviously it was disappointing to not win the first round,” Williams said in a news conference. “Losing any match is never any fun, especially in a major.”
Williams, who has won seven Grand Slam singles titles, was diagnosed with energy-sapping Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011. She has since struggled during some of her matches with stamina and strength, and was sidelined for parts of last year with several injuries.
Fourth-seeded Li Na of China, who has reached the Australian Open final two of the last three years, won 6-2, 6-0 against Croatia’s Ana Konjuh. In men’s play, unseeded American Sam Querrey defeated Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo in four sets and No. 3 David Ferrer of Spain ousted Colombia’s Alejandro Gonzalez in opening-round matches in Melbourne.
Kumkhum beat Kvitova 6-2, 1-6, 6-3. She said she was nervous while leading 5-3, which caused two double faults.
“I was trying because I had nothing to lose,” Kumkhum told reporters. “Just play the best, do my best today.”
Stanislas Wawrinka, the eighth seed from Switzerland, won when Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev quit. Seventh seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic advanced by beating Aleksandr Nedovyesov in straight sets. Jerzy Janowicz, the 20th seed, came back to defeat Australia’s Jordan Thompson in five sets.
Sara Errani of Italy, the women’s seventh seed, lost 6-3, 6-2 to Julia Goerges of Germany. Alison Riske, ranked 55th, upset 23rd-seeded Elena Vesnina of Russia, while fellow American Madison Keys got past Patricia Mayr-Achleitner of Austria in three sets.
Three-time men’s defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia is playing against Lukas Lacko of Slovakia. Williams’s sister, Serena, who has won the tournament five times, faces Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in another match tonight.
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