China’s Peng Shuai beat top-seed Hsieh Su-wei 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4) in the first round of the Hobart International yesterday.
Peng led 6-2 and 5-2 before her Taiwanese opponent held serve to trigger a stunning comeback as she broke Peng’s serve in the next game before leveling at 5-5. Both players then held serve before Hsieh claimed the tiebreak 7-4 to make a third set necessary.
World No. 33 Peng took a 4-1 lead in the decider, but wasted three match points before eventually overcoming the No. 26-ranked Hsieh.
The result was a repeat of their match at last year’s London Olympics where Peng also won in three hard-fought sets.
The loss means Hsieh’s form going into next week’s Australian Open is patchy, having been beaten in the second-round of the Shenzhen Open last week and now falling at the first hurdle in Hobart.
Second-seeded Sorana Cirstea of Romania beat Nina Bratchikova of Russia 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 and No. 4 Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan had a 6-4, 6-1 win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain.
Another leading player to fall was Francesca Schiavone, seeded sixth, who lost to Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3).
Former champion Li Na and Zheng Jie starred on a successful day for Asian players yesterday at the Sydney International, the last major lead-in tournament to next week’s Australian Open.
Fourth seed Li had a straight sets victory over American Christina McHale, while fellow Chinese world No. 42 Zheng upset Australia’s big hope Samantha Stosur in the night match in three sets.
It was not plain sailing for Li, who came from an early break down to beat McHale 7-6 (7/2) 7-5 in two hours to set up a second round meeting with Japanese qualifier Ayumi Morita.
Li, who won the Shenzhen Open title last week, had her breakthrough year in 2011 when she won in Sydney before reaching the Australian Open final and going on to win the French Open.
Morita continued the Asian success as she ousted Slovak Daniela Hantuchova 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Zheng continued Stosur’s miserable run in home tournaments with a 6-3, 6-7 (7/9), 6-4 victory.
It was 2011 US Open champion Stosur’s fifth consecutive loss in Australia and she will head to Melbourne for the Australian Open having played just two matches since having ankle surgery six weeks ago.
Japanese qualifier Kimiko Date-Krumm, at 42 the oldest singles player on the WTA Tour, knocked Australian Casey Dellacqua out of the Sydney tournament, 6-4, 6-1.
Elsewhere, Italian third seed Sara Errani progressed with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Czech qualifier Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 6-3.
Errani will now take on Russian starlet Maria Kirilenko, a 7-5, 6-2 first-round winner over Australian Olivia Rogowska on Sunday.
Jelena Jankovic eliminated Austrian Tamira Paszek 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) and will play Italian Roberta Vinci for a quarter-final berth. Vinci upset Russian eighth seed Nadia Petrova 7-5, 7-5.
In the men’s tournament, Spanish eighth seed Marcel Granollers defeated Australian Matthew Ebden 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 while Australian James Duckworth blew an early break in the deciding set against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin before going out 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).
German fifth seed Florian Mayer ousted Portuguese qualifier Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-2.
AFP, AUCKLAND, New Zealand
Jerzy Janowicz’s fairytale rise through the tennis ranks was dealt a blow at the Heineken Open in Auckland yesterday when the Polish fifth seed lost in the opening round to US journeyman Brian Baker.