Tennis

Veterans show the way

Taiwanese Hsieh, 31, stuns seventh seed Konta; Spaniard Verdasco, 33, upsets in-form Zverev

Old is gold for Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei and Spaniard Fernando Verdasco as the veteran duo caused major upsets at the French Open yesterday.

Hsieh, 31, ranked 109th in the world, went into her first-round match against seventh seed Johanna Konta with little form to speak of, especially on clay.

After losing the first set 6-1, it looked like a formality for the 26-year-old Konta to close out the match.

But Hsieh had other ideas, hitting double-fisted groundstrokes deep into the Philippe Chatrier court, sidespun or sliced, for Konta to swipe her replies wide or long.

And once the Taiwanese had levelled matters in a second-set tie-break, she had all the momentum, while Konta continued to spray errors all around the arena.

Fittingly, it was yet another lame forehand into the net that sealed the Briton's fate and a 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 victory for Hsieh.

"Thank you for my team," said Hsieh, who reached the second round at Roland Garros for only the second time. "Merci beaucoup for the match today."

Hsieh will next play American Taylor Townsend, who beat Japanese qualifier Miyu Kato 6-4, 6-0.

Spanish veteran Verdasco also caused a major upset yesterday when he eliminated in-form Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round after their game had been interrupted at one set all on Monday.

The 33-year-old clay-court specialist outmuscled the German ninth seed when play resumed yesterday, with Zverev having lost his momentum from a day earlier when he had grabbed the second set and looked in complete control.

Verdasco will play France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert for a place in the last 32.

Elsewhere in the women's draw, in-form Ukrainian Elina Svitolina moved swiftly into the second round yesterday, easing through a potentially tricky encounter against Yaroslava Shvedova with a 6-4 6-3 victory.

The fifth seed, one of the pre-tournament favourites after winning the Rome claycourt tournament, was just a cut above her Kazakh opponent, who has reached the quarter-finals twice at Roland Garros.

"I felt good on court, played the important points well. Winning a big title just before coming here gave me a lot of confidence and I look forward to my next match," said Svitolina.

She next faces Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, who beat Mona Barthel 6-0, 6-4 yesterday.

In the men's draw, third seed and 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka defeated Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik 6-2, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 to reach the second round yesterday.

Wawrinka saved two set-points in the second-set tie-breaker before going on to down the 152nd-ranked qualifier.

The Swiss player will face Alexandr Dolgopolov for a place in the last 32.

Australian Nick Kyrgios shrugged off injury concerns and kept his emotions in check to outclass Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 yesterday and book his spot in the second round.

The 18th seed fired a total of 20 aces, including six in the first set alone, which he raced though in 30 minutes.

Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro made a successful return to Roland Garros after a five-year absence, putting aside injury concerns to sail through 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 against compatriot Guido Pella.

The 29th seed, whose career has been plagued by injury, confirmed his participation in this year's French Open only last Friday after suffering shoulder and back problems.

Del Potro, who reached the French Open semi-finals in 2009, moved across court six with no apparent signs of discomfort, sending down 13 aces in outclassing qualifier Pella in just under two hours.

Yesterday's match was del Potro's first on the Paris clay since 2012, when he lost in the quarter-finals to Roger Federer. - WIRE SERVICES


SELECTED RESULTSMEN'S SINGLES 1ST RD

  • Stan Wawrinka (x3) bt Jozef Kovalik 6-2, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3
  • Fernando Verdasco bt Alexander Zverev (x9) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
  • Nick Kyrgios (x18) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3
  • Chung Hyeon bt Sam Querrey (x27) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
  • Juan Martin del Potro (x29) bt Guido Pella 6-2, 6-1, 6-4

Women's singles 1st rd

  • Elina Svitolina (x5) bt Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4, 6-3
  • Hsieh Su-wei bt Johanna Konta (x7) 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4
  • Madison Keys (x12) bt Ashleigh Barty 6-3, 6-2
  • Carla Suarez (x21) bt Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-2
  • Sorana Cirstea bt Peng Shuai 6-3, 6-1.
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