Taiwan’s representatives in the singles at the Olympic tennis tournament both suffered first-round defeats at Wimbledon on Saturday.
In the women’s competition, Hsieh Su-wei lost in three sets to China’s Peng Shuai in the first match of the day on Court 12, before male compatriot Lu Yen-hsun suffered the same fate against Malek Jaziri of Tunisia in the next match on the same court.
The day ended on a more positive note, though, as Hsieh and Chuang Chia-jung teamed up to beat Indian pair Sania Mirza and Rushmi Chakarvarthi in the women’s doubles.
Peng had to fight hard for her 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 7-5 victory over Hsieh, but in the end the 26-place difference in the world rankings between No. 29 Peng and Hsieh proved too much for the Taiwanese to overcome. However, there was not much between the 26-year-old right-handers, who hit two-handed on both sides and who both had good runs at Wimbledon only a few weeks ago.
The Taiwanese bounced back after losing the first set to take the second, but missed a great opportunity in the third when she failed to take a break point that would have left her serving for the match at 5-3. As it was, Peng survived to win the game, before going on to claim the only break of the set two games later to go 6-5 ahead.
The Chinese player then served out the match, claiming victory on her first match point after 2 hours, 31 minutes.
While Hsieh still has a chance of Olympic glory, Lu has more reason to be disappointed after losing to a little-known opponent ranked 16 places below him.
Jaziri won a marathon tiebreak 12-10 to claim the first set. Lu then broke the Tunisian at 2-2 in the second, before wrapping up the set 6-4.
The Taiwanese dropped his serve in the eighth game of the decisive set to leave Jaziri 5-3 up and serving for match. Twice Lu saved match points, but it was third time unlucky for world No. 56 from Taoyuan as the Tunisian wrapped up the match.
It was all a far cry from the Beijing Games four years ago when Lu reached the last eight, disposing of Britain’s Andy Murray in the process. He may well have played his last Olympic match as Lu will be 32 by the time of the Rio Games in four years time, an age at which most players are well past their prime.
There was better news later in the day when Hsieh and Chuang beat Mirza and Chakarvarthi in three sets on Court 19.
The Taiwanese duo took the first set 6-1 before the Indians fought back to level the contest by taking the second 6-3.
Their resistance was short-lived, though, as the deciding set followed a similar pattern to the first, with Hsieh and Chuang dropping only one game on their way to victory.
The unseeded Taiwanese next face either Italian No. 7 seeds Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone or Spanish duo Annabel Medina Garrigues and Isabel Parra Santonja.