Hsieh, Chan win to advance in London

LONG-LASTING RIVALRY::Roger Federer’s victory over Kei Nishikori set up his 40th career match — and just fourth Wimbledon encounter — against Rafael Nadal

Staff writer, with CNA and AFP, LONDON

Fri, Jul 12, 2019 - Page 16

Taiwanese tennis veterans Hsieh Su-wei and Latisha Chan on Wednesday secured victories in their respective doubles events at Wimbledon.

Hsieh and her partner, Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, advanced to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles after toppling sixth seeds Elise Mertens of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Hsieh and Strycova, both 33, won the first set 6-4. Keeping up the pressure on Mertens and Sabalenka, the Taiwanese-Czech duo cruised to a 6-2 victory in the second set to secure a spot in today’s semi-finals, in which they are to face France’s Kristina Mladenovic and Hungary’s Timea Babos.

The result avenges their previous encounter with the Belgian-Belarussian duo earlier this year at the Miami Open, where Hsieh and Strycova suffered defeat.

Meanwhile, Chan and her mixed doubles partner, Ivan Dodig of Croatia, defeated 11th seeds Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France and Andreja Klepac of Slovenia 6-3, 6-4 in a battle that lasted 109 minutes to advance to the quarter-finals.

Chan and Dodig last month defended their French Open mixed doubles title, giving Chan her third career Grand Slam title since she turned pro in 2004.

Aside from winning the mixed doubles with Dodig at the French Open last year, Chan partnered with Martina Hingis of Switzerland to capture the women’s doubles title at the US Open in 2017.

The Taiwanese-Croatian pair were due to face British pair Evan Hoyt and Eden Silva late yesterday.

In the men’s singles, Roger Federer admitted that he had no idea he had become the first man to win 100 matches at Wimbledon, a feat which set up a mouth-watering semi-final against old rival Rafael Nadal.

Eight-time champion Federer reached his 13th semi-final at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club by defeating Japan’s Kei Nishikori 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to book his place in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the 45th time.

The 37-year-old is also the oldest man to make the last four of a major since Jimmy Connors at the 1991 US Open.

Federer is to face Nadal at Wimbledon for the first time since their epic 2008 final, which the Spaniard won.

“We have a lot of information on Rafa and so does he about us. I know people always hype it up in a big way,” Federer said. “They did that again in Paris this year [when Nadal won their semi-final in straight sets].”

Federer and Nadal have met 39 times in their careers, but just three times at Wimbledon.

The Swiss star won their first two encounters in the 2006 and 2007 finals before Nadal famously triumphed in a five-setter in 2008 that is widely regarded as the greatest Grand Slam final ever played.

Federer said that he was unaware that he had become the first player ever to win 100 matches at the same Grand Slam.

“A fan reminded me on court while I was signing autographs,” Federer said.

“It’s special. It’s been a lot of years I’ve been coming here, but I didn’t think of it while I was playing today. Actually not at all, not once,” he said. “Then as I’m signing, the guy says: ‘Congratulations for your 100.’ Oh, yeah, I didn’t know. I forgot.”

“Now going into the semis, facing Rafa. Yeah, 100 wins here at Wimbledon. Who would have thought? I didn’t, for sure,” he added.

Nishikori, bidding to become the first Japanese man to reach the semi-finals since Jiro Satoh in 1933, broke Federer in the first game on Centre Court. It was enough for the 29-year-old to pocket the first set.

However, 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer roared back, leveling the quarter-final with breaks in the second and sixth games of a 22-minute second set.

It was more of the same in the third as Federer found his range with a break for 4-3 before taking the set on a fourth set point.

Nishikori visibly wilted, saving two break points in the fifth game of the fourth set before fatally cracking in the ninth.

Federer hit 12 aces and 55 winners in a commanding display.

“It was difficult. The beginning was brutal. Kei came out and was smashing return winners,” Federer said. “I had to definitely make some adjustments and stay with him. It was really important for me to get the lead in the second set and protect it.”

“Usually Kei is a great rhythm player. I just think at the end I served really good. It was a good serving performance today against a great return player,” he added.