Sat, Jan 23, 2016 - Page 20 News List

Hsieh and Kalashnikova move forward

BUSY DAY:Because of rain delays, Chan Hao-ching is to play two matches today, one with elder sister Chan Yung-jan and one with Max Mirnyi in the mixed doubles

By Dave Carroll  /  Staff reporter, with AFP, MELBOURNE, Australia

Serena Williams returns during her Australian Open match against Daria Kasatkina in Melbourne yesterday.

Photo: AP

Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei advanced to the third round of the women’s doubles on a rain-affected day at the Australian Open yesterday.

Hsieh and Oksana Kalashnikova upset fourth seeds Timea Babos of Hungary and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 on Court 6 at Melbourne Park in one of the few matches on the outside courts to survive the rain.

The Taiwanese-Georgian duo saved six of eight break points and converted four of five, winning 107 of the 208 points contested to wrap up the victory in 2 hours, 6 minutes.

With the weather wreaking havoc with the schedule, it promises to be a busy day for Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching today.

She is due to team up with elder sister Chan Yung-jan in the second round of the women’s doubles, with the second seeds taking on Ukrainian duo Kateryna Bondarenko and Olga Savchuk, before partnering Max Mirnyi in the mixed doubles.

The eighth-seeded Taiwanese-Belarussian pairing are to take on Sloane Stephens of the US and Jean-Julien Rojer in the first round.

Hsieh is also due to be back in action in the first round of the mixed doubles alongside Austrian partner Alexander Peya. They face Australian pairing Maddison Inglis and Benjamin Mitchell.

In the women’s singles, world No. 1 Serena Williams showed no mercy to Daria Kasatkina in a straight-sets demolition, but then offered words of encouragement to the overawed teenager.

The six-time Melbourne Park winner and defending champion easily out-muscled the young Russian 6-1, 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena in just 44 minutes, the shortest match of the tournament so far.

It set her up with a fourth-round clash against another Russian, Margarita Gasparyan, with a quarter-final beckoning against old foe Maria Sharapova — a showdown Williams would be confident of winning.

She has beaten Sharapova in every match they have played since 2004.

“I definitely think I played better today. Everything I’ve been trying to work on was kind of clicking today,” Williams said. “I thought I played pretty well in the other matches. My first match I thought I gave a great effort. My second match I thought, under the circumstances, I thought I played well. Hopefully with each match I can just do better.”

Playing on center court against the top seed at a Grand Slam was a huge occasion for the 18-year-old Kasatkina, who was not just making her debut at the tournament, but is on her first-ever trip to Australia.

The teen only played her first WTA tournament in April last year, but has so far managed to score three wins over top 50 opposition, signaling her promise.

Williams took time to console her after the match.

“She has such a bright future. She’s so young and she’s headed in the right direction,” Williams said, adding that she felt it was important for older players to help nurture the younger generation.

“I think it’s important. We definitely want to encourage each other. This is our sport. We want to see it grow,” she said. “Ultimately you want to see it be the best sport for women and continue to be the best sport and biggest sport for women. Hopefully we can all encourage and just hope for the best.”

Kasatkina came into the event as the world’s 69th-ranked player, but was no match for the composed and massively experienced American, who is gunning to equal Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles.

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