Venus Williams exits Australian Open

Monday, January 16, 2006

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Wimbledon champion Venus Williams crashed in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday, losing 2-6, 6-0, 9-7 to Tszvetana Pironkova.

It was only the third time in 34 Grand Slam tournaments that the five-time major winner has lost in the first round.

The 10th-seeded Williams sprayed 65 unforced errors, including 41 in the third set as she struggled to control her ground strokes in her first tour-level event since September.

Bulgaria's Pironkova, ranked 94th, was broken when she served for the match in the 12th game of the third set. She saved two break points in her next service game and clinched it on her first match point on consecutive backhand errors from Williams.

Top-ranked Lindsay Davenport had little trouble in the first round , advancing 6-2, 6-1 over Australian wild card entry Casey Dellacqua.

-- AP

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