Hsieh begins new year, duo with win

FRESH START::The Taiwanese inaugurated her nascent partnership with India’s Sania Mirza by rallying to claim victory in their Brisbane International doubles opener

By Dave Carroll  /  Staff reporter, with agencies, BEIJING, CHENNAI, INDIA, AND BRIS

Wed, Jan 07, 2015 - Page 20

Hsieh Su-wei’s new doubles partnership with Sania Mirza got off to a winning start yesterday at the Brisbane International in Australia.

The Taiwanese-Indian duo were pegged back by Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia and Croatia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in the first set, before serving to love to claim a 6-5 lead and then breaking their opponents to take the set.

The top seeds then slumped to 1-3 in the second set, before winning five straight games to claim a 7-5, 6-3 victory in 1 hour, 10 minutes on Court 14.

Hsieh and Mirza saved five of eight break-point chances and converted five of nine to set up a quarter-final against Australian sisters Anastasia and Arina Rodionova on Show Court 2 today.

Fellow Taiwanese Chan Hao-ching is also in action in Brisbane today alongside Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic in the final first-round match.

The No. 3 seeds are due to face Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the first match scheduled on Show Court 2.

In the singles action, Maria Sharapova opened her season by winning nine straight games in a 6-0, 6-1 rout of Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan in the second round.

The top-seeded Russian wrapped up the first set in 23 minutes and led 3-0 in the second before Shvedova held serve, raising her arm in mock triumph. Shvedova had a break-point opportunity in the next game, but could not put away an overhead and Sharapova responded with a backhand winner down the line.

Third-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany advanced earlier with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Russian-Australian Daria Gavrilova, while Varvara Lepchenko progressed with a 6-4, 6-4 win over US teenager Madison Keys, who had ousted Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova of Slovenia in the first round.

In men’s first-round upsets, Lukasz Kubot of Poland beat fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa 7-6 (3), 6-4 and Sam Groth ousted defending champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-2. Seventh-seeded Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov beat Argentine Carlos Berlocq 6-2, 6-3.

In the Shenzhen Open, Taiwan’s Chan Chin-wei is in action in the doubles, where the Taiwanese and Oksana Kalashnikova of Georgia are due to face Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland and Vera Zvonareva of Russia in the quarter-finals.

In the second-round singles action in China yesterady, Czech world No. 4 Petra Kvitova thrashed Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski 6-1, 6-2.

The 24-year-old double Wimbledon winner and second seed broke Jovanovski twice in the first set.

The Serbian, ranked 56, offered a little more resistance in the second set, earning three break points, but she failed to take any of them and Kvitova wrapped up the match in one hour and two minutes.

Home player Zheng Saisai took nearly two hours to overcome Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 6-3, 2-6, 6-2.

In the day’s only other singles match, Kazakh No. 4 seed Zarina Diyas breezed past Timea Babos of Hungary in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.

On the ATP Tour on Monday, Taiwanese No. 1 Lu Yen-hsun also began his season with a victory after overcoming an Indian fightback in the first round of the doubles in Chennai, India.

Lu and Jonathan Marray defeated Indian duo N. Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 6-3, 4-6, 10-6 in 1 hour, 10 minutes.

The Taiwanese-English pairing saved one of the four break-point chances they faced and converted four of seven, with their first service percentage of 80 helping to overcome their opponents, who could only manage 56 percent.

Lu was due to play his first singles match of the year against India’s Somdev Devvarman yesterday.

Although 29-year-old Devvarman has beaten Lu in the Davis Cup, the Taiwanese performed better on the Tour last year, climbing from world No. 65 to No. 38.

Devvarman, who was the world No. 62 in 2011 before injuries saw his ranking tumble to No. 136, told the India Today Web site: “It is going to be tough. He has had a fantastic year. We practiced together in Doha during the off-season and I know he can be a difficult opponent.”

In the singles action, eighth seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg launched his bid with a grueling three-set win over last year’s finalist Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France.

The big-serving Muller was stretched by the valiant Frenchman before winning 6-7 (11/13), 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) in 2 hours, 23 minutes.

Seventh seed Marcel Granollers of Spain conceded his first-round match with Andreas Haider-Maurer due to a knee injury after the Austrian took a 2-0 lead in the third set.

Haider-Maurer won 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 2-0 after two hours.

Muller, ranked 46th in the world, said he was relieved to start the season with a win.

In the last match on Monday night, rising Croatian star Borna Coric brushed aside Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-2.