Taiwan’s Chan sisters advance in Rome

SECOND WIND::Seventh seeds Chan Hao-ching and Latisha Chan rallied to defeat Darija Jurak and Raluca Olaru 3-6, 6-0, 10-5 in 1 hour, 19 minutes on the clay courts

By Dave Carroll  /  Staff reporter, with AFP, ROME

Thu, May 16, 2019 - Page 16

The Chan sisters on Tuesday battled back from a set down to advance to the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali d’Italia, while fellow Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei crashed out in the first round of the women’s singles.

Seventh seeds Chan Hao-ching and Latisha Chan rallied to defeat Darija Jurak and Raluca Olaru 3-6, 6-0, 10-5 in 1 hour, 19 minutes on the clay courts in Rome.

The Taiwanese duo saved five of eight break points and converted four of seven, winning 62 percent of their first-return points to improve their career record over the Croatian-Romanian pairing to 2-0 after a victory in the quarter-finals in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in February.

The Taiwanese sisters were next due to face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia and Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, but yesterday their opponents pulled out of the tournament, handing the Chan sisters a walkover into the quarter-finals.

In the women’s singles, Hsieh was beaten 6-3, 6-4 by 16th seed Julia Goerges in 1 hour, 24 minutes.

The German saved three of four break points and converted four of 12, winning 84 percent of her first-serve points to improve her career record over the Taiwanese to 2-0 following a semi-final victory in Auckland, New Zealand, last year.

Two-time champion Elina Svitolina crashed out, while Serena Williams’ return to the courts was short lived with her knee injury flaring up to force the American out of the final warm-up before the French Open in two weeks.

Svitolina, who had a first-round bye as fifth seed, held a match point at 5-2 in the third set before slumping 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in a 2 hour, 14 minute battle at the Foro Italico which was twice interrupted by rain.

Williams earlier announced she was withdrawing having just returned after two months out injured, before she was due to play her older sister Venus Williams for the first time in 21 years in Rome.

The 37-year-old had eased past Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in the first round on Monday, but a day later could not continue “due to pain in my left knee.”

“I’ll be concentrating on rehab and look forward to seeing you all at the French Open and next year in Rome,” Serena Williams said in a statement.

Her withdrawal sends Venus Williams, the 1999 winner, through to a third-round meeting with either Britain’s Johanna Konta or US seventh seed Sloane Stephens.

Svitolina and Azarenka battled late into the night at the Foro Italico before former two-time Australian Open winner Azarenka won through.

Svitolina came back after the rain break to drop the second set, but rolled off the first three games in the third, before being broken when serving for the match at 5-2 in the third set.

Azarenka saved match point and took the next game to love, rolling off five in a row to set up a meeting former French Open winner Garbine Muguruza or Danielle Collins for a place in the third round.

Collins advanced past former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who retired with a leg injury after losing the first set 7-6 (7/5).

Fourth seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic eased through to the third round along with Australian Ashleigh Barty, the eighth seed.

In the men’s singles, world No. 5 Alexander Zverev, the 2017 winner and runner-up to Novak Djokovic last year in Rome, extended his terrible clay-court run, falling 7-5, 7-5 to Italian wild-card Matteo Berrettini in the second round.

“The match that I played was horrendous,” said Zverev, who has won just four matches on clay this season, including a run to the quarter-final of the Madrid Open where he was the defending champion.

“I’ve lost my voice screaming, I’m overjoyed. This is a victory that charges me,” world No. 33 Berrettini said.

Belgian David Goffin rallied from a set down to beat former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 to set up a meeting with Argentine seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro for a place in the third round.

Ninth seed Marin Cilic beat Italian wild-card Andrea Basso 6-1, 7-5, while Australian Nick Kyrgios struck 15 aces and 41 winners to get past Russian 12th seed Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

“I knew it was going to be tough today because I haven’t played much on clay,” said Kyrios, who next plays Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud.

Portgual’s Joao Sousa saved four match points in the deciding set to battle past Frances Tiafoe of the US 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4).

Sousa, who also trailed 1/4 in the deciding-set tiebreak, was due to play third seed Roger Federer in the second round.