Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching fared better than her more celebrated countrywoman, Hsieh Su-wei, in the women’s doubles at the Australian Open yesterday, making it to the third round of the year’s first Grand Slam event.
The 13th-seeded Chan and US partner Liezel Huber topped unseeded Varvara Lepchenko of the US and Raluca Olaru of Romania 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the heat of Melbourne, matching Chan’s best women’s doubles result in a Grand Slam event.
She previously teamed up with her sister, Chan Yung-jan, to reach the third round of the French Open in 2012.
Chan will face a tough challenge to reach her career best, as she and Huber next face formidable fourth seeds, Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic and Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik.
The 20-year-old Chan and 37-year-old Huber, currently ranked 29th and 23rd in the world in doubles respectively, converted their only break point of the first set, while fighting off a break point against them to grab the early advantage.
Each duo was broken twice in the second set, but Chan and Huber rallied in the tiebreaker to clinch the match in 100 minutes.
Chan is competing at the Australian Open for only the second time, while Huber, who won the 2007 title with Cara Black from Zimbabwe is making her 16th appearance.
The duo teamed up three times last year, reaching the final of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September, and they have played together so far this year. They are primarily doubles specialists.
Hsieh fell short of her advance billing. Seeded second in Melbourne with partner Peng Shuai of China, the duo fell to unseeded Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain and Shahar Peer of Israel 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 in a second-round clash.
Hsieh and Peng, the defending Wimbledon champions, sped to a 5-2 lead in the opening set, but then faltered, hurt by a barrage of unforced errors.
They recovered to take the second set by keeping steady pressure on their opponents’ serve, but stumbled in the final two games of the third set to lose the two hour, 14 minute-match.
Hsieh and Peng may have run out of gas after needing nearly three hours in 43oC heat a day earlier to subdue Eva Hrdinova of the Czech Republic and Paula Ormaechea of Argentina.
Soler-Espinosa and Peer had a full day of rest after winning their first-round match on Wednesday.
World No. 1 Serena Williams made light of the scorching temperatures to blast her way into the last 16 of the women’s singles for the loss of just a dozen games yesterday.
Li Na’s progress was less imperious and the Chinese fourth seed escaped defeat by a matter of centimeters in her third-round match.
Zheng Jie seemed to suffer most obviously during her 6-2, 6-4 loss to Australian Casey Dellacqua on Rod Laver Arena before a cooling breeze eased conditions.
“I definitely look forward to playing in the cooler temperatures,” said Williams, whose 6-3, 6-3 win over Daniela Hantuchova was a record 61st at the Australian Open, taking her past local great Margaret Court’s 60.
“For whatever reason, I feel like I just never was really able to reach my full potential, and I feel like recently I just have been able to do a little better,” said the 32-year-old, who is in the hunt for her sixth Australian Open title.
With just the one grand slam title to the American’s 17, Li attracts considerably lower expectations, but was still expected to deal easily enough with Lucie Safarova on Hisense Arena.