Lu Yen-hsun returns to the grass courts of Wimbledon this year for the 10th time, but he will always be remembered for his epic run in 2010, when he beat US star Andy Roddick in a memorable five-setter before bowing out against Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
While any repetition at this year’s tournament, which starts tomorrow, would be a surprise, Lu did progress to the third round in 2011 and has twice reached the second round of the Grand Slam tournament in which he has enjoyed most success.
The 29-year-old from Taoyuan beat Italy’s Simone Bolelli to reach the second round of the French Open for the first time last month before being forced to pull out of the tournament with a foot injury.
He then beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France in the first round of the Topshelf Open in ’s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands on Tuesday before losing in three sets to Xavier Malisse of Belgium in his only pre-Wimbledon warm-up tournament on grass.
On paper Lu appears to have received a relatively kind first-round draw for the All England club against world No. 216 James Ward. However, his British opponent can bank on home support and has shown he can excel on grass, reaching the semi-finals at Queen’s Club in London in 2011 and the quarter-finals at Eastbourne in 2010.
Of the three Taiwanese players who took part in qualifying last week, only Jimmy Wang made it to the main draw after beating Boy Westerhof of the Netherlands, Canada’s Frank Dancevic and Malek Jaziri of Tunisia. The world No. 152’s three straight-sets victories earned him a showdown against Wayne Odesnik of the US, who is perhaps best-known for earning a year-long ban after being found with eight vials of human growth hormone in his suitcase at Brisbane airport in Australia in 2010.
Taiwan’s top-ranked female player Hsieh Su-wei has not been in the best of form in her two pre-Wimbledon warm-up tournaments on grass, losing to Jamie Hampton of the US in Birmingham before beating promising British youngster Johanna Konta in the first round of the Aegon International tournament in Eastbourne. Hsieh was again drawn against Hampton in the second round with the same result as a week earlier, a straight-sets defeat.
Still, the 27-year-old can take heart from a good run at SW19 last year when she reached the third round of the singles before losing to Maria Sharapova. She also reached the same stage in the doubles with Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, her joint best performance at Wimbledon following her progression to the same stage with Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia in 2010.
Hsieh has been drawn to play world No. 112 Tatjana Maria of Germany in the first round, whose best performance at the All England club was a second-round appearance in 2009.