Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei lost her rain-affected first-round women’s singles match at Wimbledon on Wednesday, while Marcus Willis’ brief flirtation with fame was ended by Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic racked up an Open era record of 30 successive Grand Slam wins.
World No. 69 Hsieh, who has been complaining of fatigue after entering every possible tournament in the past two months in an effort to improve her ranking and earn a spot at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, started the day on Court 5 at one-set all with 21st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after their first-round match was suspended due to rain on Tuesday evening.
However, the Russian broke the Taiwanese early and claimed a 3-1 lead before rain once again forced the players back into the changing rooms at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
Upon their return, the Russian wasted no time completing a 7-5, 1-6, 6-1 victory in 1 hour, 47 minutes.
The world No. 23 saved 13 of 16 break points and converted four of nine, winning 88 of the 174 points contested to advance to a second-round meeting with Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, who defeated Russia’s Marina Melnikova 7-5, 6-2.
Weather permitting, Hsieh was due back on court yesterday against a familiar foe in the first round of the doubles, as the Taiwanese and Nicole Melichar of the US were to take on Chinese duo Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai. Hsieh and Peng claimed the Wimbledon doubles title as a partnership in 2013.
Also due to take their bow in the doubles yesterday where Taiwan’s Chuang Chia-jung, Chan Chin-wei and third-seeded sisters Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan.
In the men’s singles, Willis, the world No. 772 who had already played seven matches just to make a dream second-round clash on Centre Court, went down 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.
“It sounds funny, but I am disappointed to lose,” the Englishman said. “It’s daunting. I was playing alright at first, I settled into the match. I was enjoying it. If I was playing well and competing with Roger for a couple of sets I was doing well. I’ve earned myself a beer now.”
Only Federer and Djokovic completed their second-round matches on Wednesday after just 90 minutes of action were possible on the rain-lashed outside courts. Only 18 of the 62 ties scheduled for the day were completed.
Willis, who makes his living coaching children and senior citizens at a rowing club, has provided the feelgood factor of a wet, cold week in southwest London.
Having never played a tour match before Wimbledon, the sturdy left-hander, dubbed “Cartman” after the portly character from South Park, found himself facing a man who had won 79 matches more than him at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
In an indication of the two different worlds they inhabit, Federer has career earnings just shy of US$100 million, while Willis had banked just US$200 this year and still lives with his parents, but the US$63,000 he earned for his magical run will ease the burden of a player who took to the court even wearing a shirt bearing Federer’s “RG” monogram.
Willis was far from embarrassed by Federer, despite shipping the first set in just 24 minutes.
Roared on by his friends, who unleashed a series of adapted pop songs for his benefit, Willis got on the scoreboard in the second game of the second set.
The 25-year-old had cheekily lobbed the seven-time Wimbledon champion earlier in the match, but Federer, the holder of a record 17 majors, was never in trouble, facing just two break points in the 84-minute match and he took victory when Willis went long with an approach.
“Marcus brought some unbelievable energy to the court with the fans, his play and his personality as well,” said 34-year-old Federer, who next faces either Dan Evans of Britain or Alexander Dolgopolov of Ukraine.
Defending champion Djokovic brushed aside Adrian Mannarino, who was celebrating his 28th birthday, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) to reach the third round.
The top seed, bidding for a third consecutive title, next faces either American 28th seed Sam Querrey or Thomaz Bellucci for a place in the round-of-16.
It was Djokovic’s 30th successive win at Grand Slams, beating the modern day mark of Rod Laver and putting him just seven behind the 37 of Don Budge set in 1938.
“The record that I managed to break today is one of the better ones, because as a professional tennis player you always aim to play your best in Grand Slams,” said Djokovic, who holds all four Grand Slam titles.
Also under the Centre Court roof, Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska reached the last 64 of the women’s singles with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova to preserve her record of having never lost in the first round at Wimbledon.
Radwanska, the 2012 runner-up, next faces Ana Konjuh of Croatia.
SWEEP THE LEG: Poirier, determined to best McGregor, after losing to him in 2014, used low calf kicks to throw ‘Notorious’ off his stand-up game, before dropping him American underdog Dustin Poirier yesterday shook up the world of mixed martial arts, beating up the legs of Irish superstar Conor McGregor before knocking him out at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. “I’m happy, but I’m not surprised. I put in the work,” Poirier said, after the referee stepped in after 2 minutes, 32 seconds of the second round to save McGregor from further damage, after he was dropped by a fierce combination of punches. The 32-year-old Poirier was ranked second in the flyweight division going into the fight, but still rated a heavy underdog by bookmakers to beat his fourth-ranked opponent,
World No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying yesterday eased past her Thai opponent to advance to the second round of the Toyota Thailand Open. The Taiwanese star toppled world No. 46 Supanida Katethong 21-16, 21-11 in 29 minutes at the Impact Arena in Bangkok. “I think I played OK today. I am feeling a little better than last week,” Tai said. Tomorrow, Tai faces Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung. The two have faced each other six times, with Tai beating the world No. 21 in all six matches. Tai on Sunday reached the final of the Yonex Thailand Open before losing decisively against Carolina Marin of Spain.
LOOKING TO REPEAT: World No. 7 Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin advanced to the round-of-16 at the Toyota Thailand Open, after winning the Yonex Thailand Open on Sunday Taiwan’s world No. 7 duo yesterday eased past the US’ world No. 37 pairing at the Toyota Thailand Open to reach the round-of-16 in Bangkok. Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin beat Phillip Chew and Ryan Chew 21-14, 21-11 in just 24 minutes. Lee and Wang, who won the men’s doubles title at the Yonex Thailand Open on Sunday, next face the world No. 34 pairing, Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura. In men’s singles, Taiwan’s world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen again beat Thailand’s world No. 45 Suppanyu Avihingsanon, after edging past the Thai player in the opening round of the Yonex
Three new COVID-19 cases yesterday hit the Australian Open’s troubled buildup as a backlash grew against international tennis players flown in during a raging pandemic. Two of the new cases were players, state health officials said, taking the total infections to seven since more than 1,000 people arrived in largely COVID-19-free Australia on charter flights last week. The Victoria Department of Health and Human Services said that the two players and a third person associated with the tournament — a woman in her 20s, and two men in their 30s — had returned positive results. The year’s first Grand Slam, delayed three weeks,