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6:29 AM Wed, Nov. 14th

Major letdown for US women: Venus, Stephens out in Melbourne

ATP Tour: Australian Open

United States’ Venus Williams makes a forehand return to Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic during their first round match at the Australian Open on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, in Melbourne, Australia. (Vincent Thian/AP)

United States’ Venus Williams makes a forehand return to Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic during their first round match at the Australian Open on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, in Melbourne, Australia. (Vincent Thian/AP)

MELBOURNE, Australia — U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens was first to go, followed quickly by last year’s Australian Open runner-up, Venus Williams.

CoCo Vandeweghe went out next as things really started to go crazy for the U.S. women, who eventually lost nine out of 10 first-round matches on a bleak opening day of the Australian Open.

Four months after American women filled all four semifinal spots at the U.S. Open — for the first time in 36 years — three of them are out of contention at the next Grand Slam.

Monday’s major letdown was compounded when eighth-seeded Jack Sock and No. 16 John Isner joined the procession of U.S. first-round losers.

In her first match at Rod Laver Arena since a vintage run in 2017 ended in a championship loss to sister Serena, Venus Williams lost her opener to Belinda Bencic 6-3, 7-5 to ensure the title won’t stay in the family.

Serena Williams hasn’t played a Grand Slam tournament since winning her 23rd major in Australia last year because of her pregnancy and the birth of her first child.

Fifth-seeded Venus was considered a serious contender in her 77th major to break a Grand Slam title drought dating back to 2008.