Wed, Jan 24, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Hsieh is last Taiwanese left standing

UPSETTING UPSET:Nadal and Cilic battled through four evenly matched sets before a leg injury left the Spaniard wincing, limping and eventually retiring from the match

By Dave Carroll  /  Staff reporter, with AFP, MELBOURNE

Rafael Nadal attends a news conference after retiring against Marin Cilic in their quarter-final at the Australian Open yesterday in Melbourne.

Photo: AFP

Hsieh Su-wei yesterday put her fourth-round singles defeat by Angelique Kerber behind her to advance to the doubles semi-finals at the Australian Open, while it was the end of the road for fellow Taiwanese Latisha Chan and Chan Hao-ching in the women’s doubles and mixed doubles respectively.

Eighth seeds Hsieh and Peng Shuai cruised to a 6-1, 6-4 victory over fourth-seeded Czech duo Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova in 1 hour, 13 minutes in their women’s doubles quarter-final on Show Court 2 at Melbourne Park.

The former Wimbledon and French Open champions saved four of five break points and converted four of nine, winning 65 of the 113 points contested.

The Taiwanese-Chinese duo hit 12 winners to set up a semi-final against fifth seeds Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France, who survived a second-set meltdown to edge top seeds Latisha Chan and Andrea Sestini Hlavackova 6-4, 0-6, 7-6 (8/6) in 2 hours, 20 minutes on Show Court 3.

The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved nine of 12 break points and converted five of seven, winning 103 of the 203 points contested, but it was not enough as they crashed out of the quarter-finals of the first Grand Slam of the season.

In the second round of the mixed doubles, seventh seeds Chan Hao-ching and Michael Venus of New Zealand were routed 6-2, 6-1 by Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Marcelo Demoliner in just 45 minutes on Show Court 2.

The Spanish-Brazilian pairing did not face a single break point and converted five of seven to advance to a quarter-final against Australian duo Storm Sanders and Marc Polmans.

In the singles, Rafael Nadal’s drive toward a second Open title came to a shuddering injury-induced halt on a day of upsets that saw unseeded Kyle Edmund and Elise Mertens make the semi-finals.

The world No. 1 retired against Marin Cilic after an upper right leg problem began troubling him during the fourth set, with the Spaniard wincing in pain and limping as he struggled to continue.

His 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 2-0 exit set up a last-four clash for the former US Open champion against Britain’s Edmund, who stunned third seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Mertens, who has yet to drop a set, was equally convincing in blasting past world No. 4 Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-0 to become the first Belgian to make the semis since Kim Clijsters in 2012.

She is to play second seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki or veteran Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro for a place in Saturday’s final.

Little separated Nadal and big-hitting Cilic until the injury struck, as they traded ferocious groundstrokes in an intense battle.

However, the Spaniard called the physio at 1-4 in the fourth set and again at the changeover when two sets apiece and the writing was on the wall.

“It was an unbelievable performance from both us,” Cilic said. “It is really unfortunate for Rafa to finish this way.”

There were no such troubles for Edmund against Dimitrov.

“It’s an amazing feeling. I’m very happy,” said the overwhelmed 23-year-old, ranked 49th. “It was a hard match and I’m really trying to enjoy the moment. It was my first match on Rod Laver Arena and it’s very special.”

World No. 37 Mertens is on a hot streak of form, unbeaten in 10 matches after winning in Hobart this month.

She was too physical for Svitolina as she stormed into the semis, incredibly on her Australian Open debut.

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