Venus Williams loses first match since Australian Open final

Andrea Petkovic of Germany returns the ball to Roberta Vinci of Italy during the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2017 tennis tournament match in St.Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) Venus Williams lost her first match since the Australian Open to Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-1 in the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Thursday.

Seeded fourth, Williams showed none of the spark which took her to the Australian Open final last weekend, failing to record a single winner in the opening set compared to 15 for her French opponent.

Mladenovic broke the tired-looking Williams in the first game of the second set and swiftly wrapped up the second-round win. Williams received a bye in the first round.

In the quarterfinals, Mladenovic meets defending St. Petersburg champion Roberta Vinci, who beat Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-4. Vinci, the sixth-seeded Italian, was broken twice in the first set.

Also, second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia cruised past Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-2, 6-2 and into the quarterfinals.

Cibulkova will play fifth-seeded Russian Elena Vesnina, who progressed by defeating France’s Alize Cornet 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.