The highlight match of the women's draw in the first round of the US Open pitted 20th seed Karolina Muchova against two-time champion Venus Williams with the Czech coming out on top 6-3, 7-5 under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium to hand the seven-time major champion her first ever first-round loss at Flushing Meadows.
Rising Czech star takes down American legend in primetime showdown
Muchova held an immediate 0-40 advantage on the Williams serve and after the seven-time major champion saved the first two chances, she dumped a backhand into the net on the third, handing the Czech the early initiative. She rallied from 0-40 down on her own serve to consolidate her advantage for a 2-0 lead.
The 20th seed went up a double break after a marathon 16-point game, closing the net and knocking a backhand volley into the open court for a 4-1 edge. Williams had more chances in the next game, but Muchova held her nerve and moved to within a game of the opening set.
Williams rallied, holding and setting up 15-40 after a clean forehand winner. Changing up the pace, a slice backhand forced Muchova to net her own backhand and the deficit was reduced to 5-3. The Czech would get the last word as the American committed back-to-back unforced errors, giving the 20th seed a one-set lead.
The 40-year old Williams drew first blood in the second set, breaking after a Muchova double fault to take a 2-1 lead. Losing just two points over her next two service games, she seemed on course to force a third set, saving two break points to take a 5-3 lead, but the Czech closed with a flourish.
A hold to 15 brought her to within 5-4 and she was on level terms after a pair of deep forehands forced a slice backhand error from Williams. A love hold found Muchova on top 6-5 and she had two match points on the American's serve. After misfiring on a backhand on her first chance, a double fault by Williams gave the Czech victory.