Tennis

Thailand's Luksika shocks seed slayer Bencic at Aussie Open

The world No. 124 sees off the 78th-ranked Swiss who had defeated Venus Williams earlier

Thailand's Luksika Kumkhum did Asia proud at the Australian Open when she disposed of seed slayer Belinda Bencic in the second round on Wednesday (Jan 17).

Luksika, 24, who had to go through the qualifiers, won 6-1, 6-3 against the 20-year-old Swiss, who had sent fifth seed and last year's runner-up Venus Williams crashing out in the first round on Monday. 

The shock result by Luksika was among yesterday's highlights, which included Caroline Wozniacki's great comeback against little-known Jana Fett, saving two match-points at 1-5 in the final set before eventually winning 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. 

Luksika, too, had to produce a masterful display to overcome Bencic. In the process, the world No. 124 reached the third round of a Major for the first time, having twice reached the second round of the Australian Open.

She hopes her win would stimulate interest in the sport in Thailand, which had tennis fever when Paradorn Srichaphan was at his prime in the early 2000s. Her next opponent is Croatia's world No. 42 Petra Martic, who is waiting for her in the Round of 32 on Friday.

Said Luksika: “My dad is a tennis coach and when (former world No. 9) Paradorn Srichaphan was doing well, he always had a lot of young players wanting to learn."

For former world No. 7 Bencic, now down at 78th after battling back from wrist surgery, it was a sudden comedown after the highs of Monday when she outplayed seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus.

“It was not the issue that I was still thinking about the Venus win,” said Bencic, who had won the Hopman Cup with compatriot Roger Federer earlier this month.

“I had re-set and focused but it was a tough second round. I’ve played her a few times and it’s always been really difficult.

“But I’m still pretty positive. The start to the year has been better than I could have imagined.”

Luksika was not the only seed slayer yesterday. China's Zhang Shuai, conqueror of US Open champion Sloane Stephens in round one, was also toppled by a qualifier in the shape of Czech Republic’s Denisa Allertova, who won 6-4, 7-6(5).

With 15-year-old Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk also getting through, it means three qualifiers have made the third round in the bottom half of the wide open women’s draw. – Reuters

Luksika Kumkhumaustralian openBelinda Bencic