MELBOURNE, Australia - Venus Williams and Juan Sebastián Cabal were beaten in the opening round of the Mixed Doubles at the Australian Open on Saturday, losing in three sets to Saisai Zheng and Joran Vliegen, 3-6, 6-3, 10-4.
Williams, who lost out in the singles to teenager Coco Gauff earlier this week, won the event in 1998 alongside compatriot Justin Gimelstob, while Cabal was a winner partnering Abigail Spears three years ago.
The American-Colombian pair started brightly, taking the first set in 41 minutes, recovering from an early break and a 3-1 deficit to reel off five successive games.
And an early break put Williams and Cabal 3-1 ahead in the second, though this proved to be the opposite of the opener as the pair lost their momentum. This time it was Zheng and Vliegen who fought back to string together five consecutive games en route to the set.
Zheng and Vliegen stormed into a 4-0 lead, and although Williams and Cabal pulled the deficit back to 5-4, a run of five more unanswered points gave the tiebreak to the Chinese-Belgian partnership.
They go through to face No.8 seeds Hsieh Su-wei and Neal Skupski for a place in the last eight.
In the Women's Doubles, there was second-round success for top seeds Hsieh and Barbora Strycova, who beat Viktorija Golubic and Lauren Davis 6-1, 7-5.
Ashleigh Barty, the WTA World No.1 in singles, was unable to progress, losing alongside Julia Goerges to second seeds Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos, 7-5, 6-4, while home pair Maddison Inglis and Kaylah McPhee were also beaten, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 by Croatian Darija Jurak and Nina Stojanovic of Serbia.
There was further success for Gauff, who partnered Catherine McNally to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over eighth seeds Demi Schuurs and Kveta Peschke.