Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen and Lu Yen-hsun both advanced to the second round of the Australian Open yesterday, but while Chang cruised through in the women’s singles, Lu struggled through a five-set epic that lasted 3 hours, 30 minutes.
Chang was on court for 67 minutes as she easily disposed of Petra Martic, defeating the Croatian 6-4, 6-2.
Chang served up two aces and three double-faults as she won 73 percent of her games on first serve, while her opponent converted just 56 percent. The Taiwanese also converted five of her seven break points to set up a second-round meeting with 13th seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia.
In a contrasting match in the men’s singles, Lu battled past Rik de Voest of South Africa 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 on court 13.
Lu served seven aces and four double-faults as he won 78 percent of his games on first serve, while his South African opponent converted 67 percent. The Taiwanese world No. 79 converted five of 10 break points to eventually set up a second-round match with Frenchman Florent Serra, who advanced when Belgium’s Steve Darcis retired when leading their match 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 4-5.
Also in the men’s draw, Rafael Nadal suffered a new injury scare — a tendon problem in his right knee that nearly forced him to also forfeit his first-round match that he eventually managed to win easily.
Roger Federer, defending women’s champion Kim Clijsters and top seed Caroline Wozniacki, also bothered by injuries coming into the tournament, all advanced to the second round in more routine fashion and appeared as if they were over their ailments.
That was not the case for Nadal. Bothered by a left-shoulder injury late last year, Nadal had his right knee heavily taped during his 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 win over Alex Kuznetsov. The injury occurred in the most innocent of ways — sitting in a chair in his hotel room when he felt “a crack” in his knee and some “unbelievable pain.”
He had an MRI scan late on Sunday that showed no major damage to his knee, but before that the incident left him thinking: “I wasn’t 100 percent sure I would have a chance to play.”
Federer, who pulled out of a tournament in Doha two weeks ago with back soreness, began the quest for his 17th Grand Slam title with a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 win over qualifier Alexander Kudryavtsev.
Third seed Federer took the first two sets and was up a break in the third, before the Russian rallied with a break of serve in the fifth game of the final set, but Federer broke Kudryavtsev in the next game with a backhand cross-court winner and sealed the match when the Russian hit a forehand wide.
“No problem, I am happy to be 100 percent fit,” Federer said after his win.
He batted away just as quickly speculation about a possibly divisive issue with Nadal.
Nadal was critical of Federer on Sunday for not speaking out publicly in support of players who are pushing the ATP for changes in areas such as tournament scheduling and prize money.
“Things are fine between us, you know. I have no hard feelings towards him,” Federer said. “It’s been a difficult last few months in terms of politics within the ATP.”
Defending women’s champion Clijsters opened with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Portuguese qualifier Maria Joao Koehler, showing no signs of the hip spasms which forced her to withdraw from a tuneup event in Brisbane 10 day ago.