The Chan sisters yesterday crashed out of the doubles at the China Open, while the poor doubles form of fellow Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova continued into a second week as the top seeds also exited in the second round.
Sixth seeds Chan Hao-ching and Latisha Chan were 5-1 up against Japan’s Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara before their form deserted them and they fell to a 7-5, 6-4 defeat in 1 hour, 39 minutes on the hard courts in Beijing.
The Japanese duo saved 10 of the 14 break points they faced and converted six of 11 to oust the Taiwanese, who have claimed four titles this season, and advance to a quarter-final against second seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic.
Earlier, Hsieh and Strycova fell to a 6-4, 6-4 defeat to unseeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine in 1 hour, 16 minutes.
The Taiwanese-Czech top seeds converted only one of the four break points they created and won only 42 percent of points of their second serve to continue their poor form heading to the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China, later this month.
Following their defeat to the Chan sisters in the final of the Pan Pacific Open in Osaka, Japan, Hsieh and Strycova lost their opening match at the Wuhan Open last week and were replaced at the top of the Race to Shenzhen rankings by Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.
The Chan sisters are fifth in the rankings, 335 points ahead of Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs, who rallied to defeat Ekaterina Alexandrova and Katerina Siniakova 1-6, 6-3, 10-6 in their second-round clash yesterday.
The top eight pairings qualify for the tournament, which starts on Oct. 27.
In the men’s singles, an exhausted Andy Murray battled into a quarter-final for the first time in a year — and then immediately grabbed a snooze.
The former world No. 1 outlasted fellow Briton Cameron Norrie 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (4/7), 6-1 over nearly three grueling hours in hot and hazy Beijing.
The 32-year-old, now ranked a lowly 503, is to play top seed Dominic Thiem or Chinese wild-card Zhang Zhizhen in the last eight tomorrow.
On the mend after a career-saving hip operation in January, Murray looked all in afterward, and walked gingerly in and out of the post-match news conference.
Blowing out his cheeks several times, the three-time Grand Slam champion said that he had slept in the 90 minutes between his victory and talking to reporters.
“I’m tired, I just had a sleep before coming. I mean, I’m really tired,” he said.
To save his creaking body from more punishment, Murray said that he switched tactics in the deciding third set.
“I decided if I want to win I have to go and take risks and come to the net, try and finish the points quicker, which I did,” he said.
Murray on Tuesday defeated US Open semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini for his biggest scalp since his return to singles tennis in mid-August.
The hard-fought triumph over 69th-ranked Norrie means he reaches the last eight in singles on the ATP Tour for the first time since Shenzhen in September last year.
Murray showed several flashes of irritation as the first set against Norrie went to the tiebreak, chuntering away in the direction of his coaching team courtside.
However, he regained his composure and captured the set thanks to an untimely double fault by his compatriot.
The 24-year-old broke Murray’s serve in the sixth game of the second set and Murray was struggling, bending over between points with his hands on his knees to catch his breath.
He shook his head as he slumped red-faced in his seat at 5-2 down.
He displayed the battling qualities that took him to No. 1 in 2016 to somehow surge back, only to lose the second set on the tiebreak.
However, he somehow wrestled back the initiative in the decider, breaking Norrie’s first service game on the way to a trademark gritty victory.
Also into the quarter-finals was Russian fourth seed Karen Khachanov, a 7-6 (7/0), 7-6 (7/5) winner over France’s Jeremy Chardy.
In the women’s draw, 2017 US Open finalist Madison Keys was a surprise loser to unseeded fellow American Jennifer Brady.
Teenage US Open champion Bianca Andreescu reached the last 16 with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) victory over Belgium’s unseeded Elise Mertens.
Novak Djokovic yesterday stepped up a gear at the Japan Open, fending off a tough challenge from Japanese wild-card Go Soeda 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the quarter-finals.
The world No. 1 said that he had no problems with an injured shoulder that forced him out of the US Open as he looked to face French fifth-seed Lucas Pouille, who defeated Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1, 6-2, at the Ariake Colosseum, a venue for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Djokovic was cruising to a victory until late in the second set when 35-year-old Soeda put on a tenacious fight while the Serb began missing many of his first serves, reducing his lead to 5-4 before Soeda made it 5-5.
However, Djokovic snapped back in form and took the final two games without giving a single point to the Japanese, ending the match in just more than 90 minutes.
“Obviously, I was pleased to get that done in two [sets],” Djokovic said. “We must give credit to Go Soeda, who played a really good match, fought hard, made me work for my win today.”
“For my side, I am really pleased. Probably I played even on a higher level than the first round. So the game is going to the right direction for sure,” he said.
Elsewhere in the tournament, third seed David Goffin of Belgium came from behind in a dramatic first-round victory against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta 1-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-0.
Their grueling battle, the first match of the day, lasted more than two hours in blazing heat, as Goffin clung on to the match to take the second set that ended with a dramatic tiebreak.
After that, Carreno Busta could not find much left in himself and gave up the third set.
“It was a great fight. Such a tough opponent,” said Goffin, who is to face Denis Shapovalov of Canada. “In the end, I am happy to go to the second round.”
Australian qualifier John Millman defeated Adrian Mannarino of France 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
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