Frustrated Serena Williams loses in 2nd round at Auckland

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Jan 4 (AP) — Serena Williams lost her second-round match at the ASB Classic and the 22-time Grand Slam singles champion, frustrated by swirling winds, didn't leave quietly.

"At least I can get out of these conditions," No. 2-ranked Williams said after her 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-4 loss Wednesday to fellow American Madison Brengle.

"I would say it's my least favorite conditions I've ever played in. Again my opponent played in the exact same conditions. She was able to adjust better than me. I really abhorred these conditions."

It was Williams' second match since a four-month layoff to rest various injuries after her semifinal loss at the U.S. Open in September.

She's now off to Melbourne for the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 16, and an opportunity to go one better go one better than Steffi Graf, who shares the Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles.

Willilams is trying to be optimistic.

"I can take solace in the fact that the conditions won't be like this in Melbourne," Williams said. "This is almost not a great opportunity to assess your game to be honest. I'm trying to think of a word for (my performance) that's not obscene, but I can't."

It was a bad day for the Williams family in Auckland, with Serena's sister Venus withdrawing because of a right arm injury from her second-round match.

Serena had showed signs of rustiness in her 6-3, 6-4 first-round win over Pauline Parmentier of France, and her power-hitting game was again affected by gusting wind on the open-air center court.

She struggled with her ball toss in the windy conditions on Wednesday and made 88 unforced errors, including a double-fault on match point.

"You can't expect to win hitting that many errors ... I never got in my rhythm, I didn't hit any returns in the vicinity of the court. I've never returned like that in my life," Serena Williams said. "So it was a little frustrating, especially since I worked so hard in the off-season."

Brengle had played Serena Williams only once, in 2015, losing 6-0, 6-1.

"I just tried to concentrate on every point and run down every ball," Brengle said. "It was difficult conditions ... I tried to use the slice and get as many balls back as I could and it ended up working out."

In other second-round matches, third-seeded Caroline Wozniacki beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-3, 6-3, No. 4-seeded Barbora Strycova beat Czech compatriot Lucie Safarova 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (4) and sixth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko beat had a 6-2, 7-6 (3) win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

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