All three Taiwanese players in the women’s doubles reached the third round of the Australian Open yesterday after No. 8 seeds Chan Yung-jan and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland beat Sweden’s Johanna Larsson and Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-1, while Hsieh Su-wei and Chuang Chia-jung pulled off an impressive 6-2, 6-2 win against 13th-seeded Russians Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva.
Chuang enjoyed further success later in the day when she teamed up with Belgian Dick Norman to defeat Australian duo Alicia Molik and Peter Luczak 6-3, 3-6, (13/11) in front of a partisan full house on Show Court 2.
Sadly, Lu Yen-hsun was unable to match his female compatriots, as he and Rainer Schuettler of Germany lost in straight sets to No. 5 seeds Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski of Poland in the men’s doubles.
Chan and Radwanska hardly put a foot wrong in the first set of their match, breaking Arvidsson’s serve in the second game and giving precious few opportunities to their opponents, but the Swedes played pretty well until the eighth game, when Larsson served to stay in the set.
The 22-year-old, ranked No. 103 in the world in doubles, picked a bad time to hit the first double fault of the match to make it 15-30 and an even worse time to do the same thing again to leave the Swedish duo having to save two set points.
To add injury to insult, Larsson’s second serve hit her partner on the back of the head.
Larsson redeemed herself somewhat by saving the first set point, but on the next Chan hit a great forehand straight at the Swede’s feet and she could only put her return into the net.
Arvidsson and Larsson managed to cancel out an earlier break in the fifth game of the second set, but Arvidsson dropped her serve for the third time in the next game to leave Chan to serve for the match.
On the first match point at 40-15, Radwanska put away a smash to secure the victory much to the delight of a small contingent of Taiwanese fans.
After the match, Chan said that she felt she and Radwanska had dealt with the bright and breezy conditions better than their opponents.
“We were moving a lot at the net and used the wind pretty well,” Chan said. “When I served, I was looking into the sun, but my first-serve percentage was pretty high. I think they had more problems with the sun.”
Chan explained how she had learned from her defeat in the final round of qualifying in the singles, when she had experienced problems serving into the sun.
“It was on the same court at about the same time, so I knew I would face the sun again,” she said. “I practiced a bit before the match serving into the sun and I think it helped.”
AP, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Venus Williams lasted just seven points in her third-round match yesterday at the Australian Open, forced to retire with the stomach or thigh muscle injury that she suffered two days earlier.
After having lost the first game to Andrea Petkovic of Germany and trailing 30-0 in the second, Williams stretched to the right to return a serve, hit the ball and then cried out in pain, clutching toward her stomach on the right side.
It marked the first time that Williams has retired in a Grand Slam singles match.
Her right thigh was already heavily bandaged from the injury she sustained in the first set of her second-round match on Wednesday, when she managed to beat Sandra Zahlavova in three sets.
After the second-round match, she said the injury was in her psoas muscle, which flexes the hip and spinal column.
At the end, Williams waved to the Rod Laver Arena crowd, appearing to be on the verge of tears. She is the second Williams sibling to have her Australian Open affected by injury. Her younger sister, defending champion Serena, didn’t even make it to Melbourne because of a foot injury.
Earlier, Justine Henin departed the Australian Open a lot sooner than she did last year. No. 1-seeded Caroline Wozniacki is still around, providing entertainment on and off the court.
Henin, last year’s finalist, was beaten by two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-6 (8) in the mild third-round upset, while Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova all advanced. Wozniacki provided as much fanfare in her post-match media conference as she did during her 6-4, 6-3 win over Dominika Cibulkova.
Pretending to be irritated at being considered “boring” by some critics, she came prepared with a monologue to answer any question that might be asked about the match, and then some.
“They said that my press conferences were kind of boring ... I always gave the same answers,” Wozniacki said. “I find it quite funny because I always get the same questions, so I’m just going to start with the answer.”
What transpired was one of the funniest schticks ever to grace the tiered news conference room under Rod Laver Arena. Once she got the usual match comments out of the way, Wozniacki had a chance to be asked about global warming, her prowess on the piano, the game of cricket and what she’s looking for in a boyfriend.
“Hopefully this was a little bit different than usual and now you can maybe give me some questions that are a little bit more interesting,” the 20-year-old Wozniacki said.
Sharapova, who won the 2008 Australian women’s title, struggled to a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Julia Goerges of Germany. French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy also won, beating Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-0, 7-6 (2).
On the men’s side, Federer was back to his vintage best, beating Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. While the defending champion also won in straight sets in his opening-round match against Lukas Lacko, he was extended to five tough sets against Gilles Simon in the second round, a near five-hour match that Federer said he was relieved to survive.
Yesterday, there was no such drama for the second-seeded Swiss star who is chasing his fifth Australian title.
It took him 1 hour, 45 minutes to beat Malisse and earn an Open Era-record 57th match win at the Australian Open, breaking Stefan Edberg’s record.
Federer will play Tommy Robredo, who beat Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
Roddick overcame a slow start before powering to victory with 32 aces to beat Robin Haase 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2. The eighth-seeded Roddick is seeking to win his second Grand Slam almost seven years after his first — the 2003 US Open.
Djokovic only had to play one set in the third round to advance.
The 2008 Australian Open champion was leading Viktor Troicki 6-2 when his Serbian Davis Cup teammate retired due to a stomach muscle strain.
Djokovic will play No. 14 Nicolas Almagro, who beat No. 17 Ivan Ljubicic 6-4, 7-6 (8), 6-3.
Ninth-seeded Fernando Verdasco advanced with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 win over Kei Nishikori of Japan and will play Tomas Berdych in the fourth round. The sixth-seeded Berdych beat Richard Gasquet of France 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, Federer’s often Davis Cup teammate, beat 12th-seeded Gael Monfils 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-3, breaking the French player in the last game.
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