Sat, May 12, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Former partner ousts Chan from Madrid quarter-finals

By Dave Carroll  /  Staff reporter, with AFP, MADRID

Spain’s Rafael Nadal returns to Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman during their ATP Madrid Open round of 16 tennis match at the Caja Magica on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Taiwan’s Latisha Chan was defeated by her former partner in the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Mutua Madrid Open on Thursday, while Rafael Nadal broke John McEnroe’s 34-year record by winning his 50th consecutive set on clay.

Fifth seeds Chan and Bethanie Mattek-Sands were ousted by Czech second seeds Andrea Sestini Hlavackova and Barbora Strycova, despite winning a majority of the points after a second-set comeback.

The Taiwanese-American duo fell to a 6-4, 1-6, 10-6 defeat in 1 hour, 22 minutes in which they saved two of five break points and converted four of nine, winning 64 of the 118 points contested.

The second seeds recovered from their second-set mauling to take an 8-3 lead in the super tiebreak and despite Chan’s former partner Hlavackova dropping both her serve’s with the victory in sight, Strycova clinched the victory when she served the only ace of the match on their second match point.

In the singles, world No. 1 Nadal cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Diego Schwartzman, while Juan Martin del Potro, Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep all crashed out.

Nadal’s straight-sets victory meant he established a new Open era record for consecutive sets won on a single surface, passing McEnroe’s 49 on carpet in 1984.

McEnroe also won the Madrid Open Indoor title that year and Nadal could be about to follow suit in the Spanish capital, with Austrian Dominic Thiem up next in the quarter-finals.

His unbeaten run is also perhaps a reflection of a lack of rivals, with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, for different reasons, all posing little threat on clay over the past year.

“When my career is over, these are things that are going to be there forever,” Nadal said. “They are big records. It’s difficult to be able to win 50 sets in a row, but I’ve done it. It’s over. Let’s not talk about that any more and let’s focus on what we have ahead.”

However, Del Potro would not join him in the last eight.

The Argentine led 4-0 in a third-set tiebreak, but still lost 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) to Serbian qualifier Dusan Lajovic.

Lajovic was next due to face South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, who overcame Philipp Kohlschreiber.

“I think I can improve a lot of things towards Rome and Roland Garros,” Del Potro said. “I can level up my game. Right now I’m quite calm.”

Sharapova also lost in three sets to Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, while Halep, the champion in 2016 and last year, was blown away by Karolina Pliskova.

It means Pliskova, the sixth seed, is the highest-ranked player left in the women’s singles after Caroline Wozniacki, Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina and Jelena Ostapenko all lost earlier this week.

Pliskova’s 6-4, 6-3 win sets up a semi-final showdown with two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who saw off Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.

“Even in the warm-up I felt so good today,” Pliskova said. “I think I played one of my best matches this year for sure, and for sure on clay in my life.”

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