Madison Brengle pulled off her first Top 3 victory at the ASB Classic, clinching a thrilling three-set win over top seed Serena Williams in Auckland.
WTA Staff

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Madison Brengle notched the biggest win of her career at the ASB Classic, knocking out top seed and 22-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4, to advance into the quarterfinals.

Brengle had beaten a Top 5 opponent just once before (Petra Kvitova last year in Stuttgart), and had only won one game in her last encounter with Serena in 2015, but everything changed on a Wednesday afternoon in Auckland.

Recovering from an early break in the first set, the American won five of the last six games to take the early advantage.

Playing in Auckland this week for the first time ever, Serena was made to fight at all stages of the match, even as she leveled proceedings in the second set, needing six set points and a tie-break to break even in the windy conditions.

"I really think I played - I'm trying to think of a word that's not obscene - but that's how I played," Serena told press after the match.

"88 unforced errors is too much, just way too many. It's a lot. I can't expect to win hitting that many errors. I couldn't get used to the wind; my opponent was playing in the same conditions, and maybe the wind was more suited for her game, but it was really annoying me for whatever reason."

The final set went with serve until a fateful 10th game, one that saw Brengle race out to a 15-40 lead on Serena's serve. Though the former No.1 saved the first two match points, Brengle's consistency won the day as she clinched victory in two hours and 15 minutes.

"I felt good [after the second set], but I never got into my rhythm; I never hit any returns in the vicinity in the court. I've never returned like that in my life. It's a little frustrating, especially since I worked so hard in the off-season, but at least the conditions won't be like this in Melbourne."

Up next for the American is No.7 seed Jelena Ostapenko, who dispatched Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-2, 7-6(3) earlier in the day. As for Serena, it's all about the Australian Open, where she hopes to take home a 23rd Grand Slam title and her seventh Down Under.

"She obviously did a much better job than I did. I really abhorred the conditions. I don't think I've ever hit 88 errors in my career; I could google that and that's probably accurate. So there's no need to look back on such a crappy game!"

The result was even more remarkable considering the outcome of their only previous encounter, when Brengle prized a solitary game from Serena in Madrid two years ago. "When I won that first service game I was just so happy to get on the board and could relax and enjoy it," Brengle told the press afterwards. "Yesterday I played my first round and I was so nervous - it was the first match of the year - and then today I could enjoy it a little bit more.

"The conditions were really touch - it was very, very windy - and I knew if I tried to turn it into a hitting battle that wasn't going to work, so I tried to change it up a lot and use my forehand slice, use angles and get as many balls back as I possibly could because I needed to do something different."