Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun staved off a strong challenge from Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci yesterday to advance into the second round of the Australian Open men’s singles for only the second time in five tries since first playing the event in 2005.
Lu, currently ranked a career-high 61, beat the clay-court specialist from Brazil in straight sets 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, but needed to save a number of break points in clutch situations as the match progressed to prevent it from extending further.
Lu saved two break points in the tight second set, including when he was serving for the set at 6-5. And after breaking Bellucci in the fifth game of the third set, he rallied from 15-40 down in his final two service games to clinch the victory.
The 25-year-old converted all four of his break opportunities while holding the world No. 90 Brazilian to one break in 13 tries.
“He had a lot of opportunities, but I was able to win points at all the key moments in the match,” Lu said. “I thought I was a bit more relaxed and calm than my opponent.”
The win was Lu’s fourth in the 13 grand slam events he’s played since Wimbledon in 2004, but if he wants to reach the third round of a major for the first time in his career, he will have to beat 10th-seed David Nalbandian of Argentina, who won his first round match yesterday in four sets against world No. 50 Marc Giquel from France.
Before Lu’s scheduled encounter with Nalbandian tomorrow, he will first team up with Germany’s Rainer Schuettler to face Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach of Austria in the first round of the men’s doubles today.
Most Taiwanese tennis fans, however, will be focused on the women’s singles draw today, where the two Taiwanese women in the 128-player draw — Hsieh Su-wei and Chan Yung-jan — will face off.