Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun yesterday overcame the elements and compatriot Jimmy Wang to advance to the second round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Battling a fierce sun, stifling heat and swirling winds, Lu topped Wang 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 in 1 hour, 48 minutes, continuing the strong run of form that helped him reach the finals of last week’s Heineken Open in New Zealand.
The world No. 53, whose career-best at the tournament are third-round finishes in 2009 and 2012, will next face 22nd-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria — most likely tomorrow — after Dimitrov beat Bradley Klahn of the US 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 yesterday.
In Lu’s match against the 173rd-ranked Wang, both players struggled to get comfortable on serve in the tough conditions, with neither holding serve in the first four games of the match.
Yet Lu eventually adjusted to the elements and held his final two service games in the set, while breaking Wang twice more.
“It was extremely hot and the wind was strong. I wasn’t really used to the conditions so I was really struggling with my serve early on,” Lu said. “Fortunately, my returns were good, and I played pretty well from the baseline and was able to stay on the attack the entire match.”
Lu settled down as the match progressed and broke Wang in three out of four games in the second set and two out of three games in the final set to emerge victorious.
Wang, who is trying to revive his career after being sidelined in 2009 and 2010 with a wrist injury, seemed happy with making it through the qualifiers to get into the main draw of the Australian Open men’s singles for the first time in years.
“I made it as far as the first round of the Australian Open. Even though I lost, it was my best result since 2007 [actually 2006],” Wang wrote on Facebook.
A former top-100 player, Wang has been ranked as high as 139th (in July and August last year) and was optimistic about this year.
“The season’s just begun and I’m rounding into form. This will definitely be a year worth looking forward to,” Wang wrote.
Describing Lu’s recent form as “red hot,” he wished his countryman the best at the tournament.
Lu is the only Taiwanese player to have reached the second round of a singles event at Melbourne Park.
Both Taiwanese female players in the main draw lost their first-round singles matches yesterday.
World No. 86 Hsieh Su-wei fell to world No. 84 Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, a victim of too many unforced errors in the first set and the Czech’s aggressive play in the third.
The 28-year-old Hsieh will now be hoping to extend her doubles success last year in Melbourne.
Hsieh and China’s Peng Shuai, the defending Wimbledon doubles champions, are seeded second in Melbourne and open against Eva Hrdinova of the Czech Republic and Paula Ormaechea of Argentina.
Another Taiwanese, world No. 232 Chan Yung-jan, was ousted by the US’ Christina McHale, 7-5, 6-4.
Elsewhere on a day of searing temperatures that raised complaints from players, top-seeded Rafael Nadal advanced to the second round in relatively mild conditions.
Nadal’s Australian opponent Bernard Tomic, bothered from the start by a left leg injury, retired from the match after losing the first set 6-4. Some in the crowd of 15,000 at the Rod Laver Arena booed when Tomic indicated he could not continue.