Fri, Aug 09, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Hsieh advances as Chan sisters crash

‘IT’S A GOOD THING’:Serena Williams said that she felt good being injury-free and enjoyed playing again, despite getting ‘real negative’ when down one break

Staff writer, with agencies, TORONTO

The US’ Serena Williams returns to Belgium’s Elise Mertens in their Rogers Cup women’s singles match in Toronto on Wednesday.

Photo: AP / The Canadian Press

Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Belgian partner Kirsten Flipkens on Wednesday advanced to the Rogers Cup women’s doubles quarter-finals, although the Chan sisters were not so fortunate, while Serena Williams looked solid in her first match since losing the Wimbledon final and defending champion Rafael Nadal began his title defense with a win.

Fourth-seeded Hsieh and Flipkens, paired for the first time, started the tournament strong, toppling the Japanese pair of Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya 6-3, 7-6 (7/0) in a match that lasted 90 minutes to move into the quarter-finals.

The duo broke serve in their Japanese opponents’ first two service games, giving them an edge they would not relinquish.

They faced a much sterner test in the second set, but exploited the Japanese players’ lack of stamina to clinch the match in the tiebreak.

Meanwhile, fifth-seeded Latisha Chan and Chan Hao-ching entered their match against Ukrainian Nadiia Kichenok and American veteran Abigail Spears in bad form and lost 1-6, 4-6.

In the women’s singles, Williams defeated 20th-ranked Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-3, 6-3.

The 37-year-old American, one crown shy of a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, advanced in 75 minutes at her first US Open hard-court tune-up event.

“I feel like my movement is great — been working on my fitness, so I felt like it really was able to shine through today,” Williams said. “I’m loving going out there and I’m loving kind of running. So it’s a good thing.”

Also moving into the third round was Japan’s Naomi Osaka, the reigning US Open and Australian Open champion.

She won after taking the first set 6-2 when Germany’s Tatjana Maria retired with a left abdominal injury.

With Osaka’s triumph, Australian Ashleigh Barty was ensured of being dethroned next week as world No. 1, although it could be Czech Karolina Pliskova instead of Osaka who swipes the top spot.

Williams, ranked 10th, is seeking her fourth WTA Canada crown after titles in 2001, 2011 and 2013, and improved her match record at the event to 31-4, winning half the 10 break points she earned against Mertens.

“Now that I’m just injury-free, I’m just enjoying being able to train, and I haven’t been able to do it since January, really,” Williams said. “So I just think that the fact that I can train and practice and get in the gym is really going to be helpful for me.”

Mertens broke for a 2-1 lead, but Williams answered in the sixth game to pull level at 3-3.

“I know when I got down one break I got real negative,” Williams said. “I don’t know what happened on the first time I got down. [She] just played really well. She’s obviously a really good player. I just needed to just double down and get more focused.”

Next in the path of the former world No. 1 is Russian qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova, who eliminated China’s Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-3.

Osaka had not played a match since losing to Yulia Putintseva in the first round at Wimbledon.

“I thought I played really well, despite the fact that we only played one set,” Osaka said. “I was able to do what I wanted, which was go for the shots that I had the opportunity to.”

“And, of course, there were a couple unforced errors, but I think that’s part of the process,” she said. “For me, I’m just happy that it was my first match in a while and I was able to get in the groove of things quickly.”

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