Wozniacki outlasts Hsieh Su-wei in Beijing battle

ACES ABSENT::Taiwan’s Hsieh was hampered by double faults at the China Open, while in the men’s tournament, Novak Djokovic looked out of sorts, despite his victory

By Tony Phillips  /  Staff reporter, with AFP, BEIJING

Wed, Oct 03, 2012 - Page 20

Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei gave former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki a scare before running out of steam to lose in three sets at the China Open in Beijing yesterday.

Wozniacki, currently ranked 11th in the world, lost the first set 6-7 (5/7) before bouncing back to take the second 7-6 (7/3). The Dane then took complete control to claim the deciding set without losing a game.

It was a tame end to what had been a hard-fought second-round contest stretching over 2 hours, 48 minutes.

Over the match as a whole, Hsieh’s serve could have been better, with eight double faults hampering her performance. Wozniacki by contrast only served three, and fired in an ace to boot, something Hsieh could not manage.

At least the Kaohsiung-born world No. 38 put in a better performance than the last time the pair met, when Wozniacki thrashed Hsieh 6-1, 6-1 on clay in Bad Gastein, Austria, in 2008.

Meanwhile, Chinese star Li Na brushed aside on-form Nadia Petrova of Russia in straight sets to progress to the last 16.

Asia’s top women’s player, who needs a strong showing this week to qualify for the WTA Championships in Istanbul later this month, won the match convincingly at a packed National Tennis Stadium 6-1, 6-2.

It was last year’s French Open champion’s first win against Petrova, who triumphed at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on Saturday, in seven attempts.

“That’s the charm in playing tennis. Every day, you can challenge yourself,” Li said. “You are defeated consecutively, but it doesn’t mean you are defeated by her all the time. This is sport. You never know what’s going to happen.”

“I’m very much glad to see that I’m still making progress in this match,” she added.

Li, 30, who has never won her home tournament, played at a frenetic pace throughout, breaking her opponent’s serve twice in the first set and three times in the second.

She was broken just once — in the sixth game of the second set, which lasted more than 13 minutes — and served consistently better than Petrova, hitting five aces to her opponent’s one.

Li, ranked eighth in the world and seeded seventh in Beijing, will play compatriot Peng Shuai in the third round of the tournament — the fourth and final compulsory event of the women’s calendar.

Asia’s only Grand Slam winner is in eighth position in the race to compete at the US$4.9 million end-of-season Championships, which feature the year’s top eight players.

She is two places ahead of France’s Marion Bartoli, the China Open ninth seed, who also progressed yesterday, defeating Japan’s Ayumi Morita 6-4, 6-3, while Spaniard Lourdes Dominguez Lino knocked out Laura Robson of Britain 7-5, 6-3.

Eighth seed Samantha Stosur of Australia suffered a shock second-round exit to Julia Goerges, with the German winning 7-6 (7/2), 4-6, 7-5.

Fifth seed Angelique Kerber of Germany beat Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino 6-2, 6-0, while defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska also went through, defeating China’s Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-3.

In the men’s tournament, an out of sorts world No. 2 Novak Djokovic extended his unbeaten record at the China Open, but needed three sets to defeat qualifier Michael Berrer of Germany.

The Serb, playing his first match since losing to Andy Murray in the US Open final last month, progressed to the second round with a 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2 victory, but it was a performance that was far from impressive.

Djokovic, 25, took the first set with ease, but lost the second on a tiebreak after hitting several unforced errors against the left-hander, ranked 123rd in the ATP standings, before improving his groundstrokes for the decider.

“I had a tough time to really return his serve in the second, because he went for precision more than the speed of his first serves,” Djokovic said. “He had a very high percentage of first serves in and he put a lot of pressure on my serves. I tried to stay closer to the line in the third, and it worked.”

The No. 1 seed has won the China Open on the two occasions he has entered, in 2009 and 2010, but missed last year because of injury.

Elsewhere, third-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France battled to a three-set victory over Uzbekistan’s unseeded Denis Istomin.

The world No. 7 lost the first set, but came back to win 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/3).

Tsonga’s countryman, Julien Benneteau, who lost in the final of the Malaysian Open on Sunday, was forced to retire two games into the second set, handing Italy’s Andreas Seppi the easiest of routes to the second round.