Thu, Jun 07, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Chan and Yang end Romanians’ hopes

REVENGE:Taiwanese-Chinese duo, Chan Hao-ching and Yang Zhaoxuan, defeated Romania’s Irina Bara and Mihaela Buzarnescu to advance to the women’s doubles semi-final

By Dave Carroll  /  Staff reporter, with Reuters, PARIS

Italy’s Marco Cecchinato celebrates winning his French Open quarter-final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in Paris on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching on Tuesday avenged her elder sister’s defeat in the women’s doubles quarter-finals at the French Open, while Italy’s Marco Cecchinato believes his life will never be the same again after beating Novak Djokovic in their men’s singles quarter-final at Roland Garros.

Eighth seeds Chan and Yang Zhaoxuan survived a second-set wobble to oust unseeded Romanian duo Irina Bara and Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 in 1 hour, 44 minutes on the clay courts in Paris.

The Taiwanese-Chinese duo saved two of seven break points and converted five of 10, winning 76 of the 151 points contested.

The Romanians had knocked out Chan’s elder sister, Latisha, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the fourth seeds, last week, but the Taiwanese 24-year-old and her 23-year-old Chinese partner exacted a measure of revenge, despite nearly throwing away a 5-2 lead in the final set.

The eighth seeds are next to face either top seeds Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France or unseeded Japanese pairing Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya in the semi-finals.

In the men’s singles, Cecchinato, who was suspended for match-fixing two years ago before his ban was overturned on appeal, arrived in Paris having not won a single Grand Slam match.

On Tuesday, he became the first Italian to reach the last four at a major in 40 years by beating 12-time Grand Slam champion and 2016 Roland Garros winner Novak Djokovic on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

“I think it’s changed my life. So after Roland Garros, I need some rest and to realize the moment, and we will see my life,” said the world No. 72, the lowest-ranked player to reach this stage at Roland Garros since Andrei Medvedev in 1999.

To achieve that feat, Cecchinato, who in 2016 was suspended for 18 months for match-fixing before his ban was lifted following a successful appeal, displayed an impressive range of clay-court skills.

Against Djokovic, his sliding across the court was nearly perfect, as was his ability to disguise his angles until the last moment in what was perhaps the match of the tournament so far.

He cruised through the first set, held his nerve in the second-set tiebreak, survived a comeback from former world No. 1 Djokovic in the third, before prevailing in a highly entertaining fourth-set tiebreak.

“It’s tough to describe my feelings, because now I need to realize the moment, because I will play the semi-final in Roland Garros. It is tough to talk about my emotions, very tough,” Cecchinato said.

Next up for the Sicilian is Austria’s Dominic Thiem, the last man to beat clay-court master and 10-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal on his favorite surface.

“I won my last match against Dominic Thiem, I think it was in the final of a Future [third-tier] tournament,” Cecchinato said. “So I remember this match and I want to believe I can also beat Dominic Thiem.”

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