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Tennis: Zheng, Chan come up just short in Australian Open final

Zheng Jie and Chan Yung-jan narrowly lost their first Grand Slam final as a pair. Photos: AFP.

Zheng Jie and Chan Yung-jan narrowly lost their first Grand Slam final as a pair. Photos: AFP.

January 30, 2015: Zheng Jie of China and Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan fell just short of winning their first Grand Slam doubles title together as the pair lost 6-4, 7-6(5) to American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Czech Lucie Safarova in the Australian Open women’s doubles final on Friday.

 

The unseeded pair of Mattek-Sands and Safarova were playing in their first tournament together, while Chan – who had recently played mostly with younger sister Hao-ching – renewed a partnership with Zheng, the pair having won the 2010 Malaysian Open together.

 

The 14th seeds lost an entertaining and hard-fought match at Rod Laver Arena on Friday, with Mattek-Sands and Safarova taking advantage of their opportunities. The eventual champions came back from a break down early in the first set and again in the second – after Mattek-Sands required treatment on her leg – to push the more experienced Zheng and Chan to a tiebreaker, winning 7-5.

 

Zheng (right) won the Australian Open doubles title in 2006, while Chan (left) first reached the final in 2007.

Zheng (right) won the Australian Open doubles title in 2006, while Chan (left) first reached the final in 2007.

The win marked Safarova’s first Grand Slam title and the second Australian Open title for Mattek-Sands, having won the mixed doubles title in 2012 with Romanian Horia Tecau.

 

“It’s just so special,” Safarova said, reported www.ausopen.com. “It’s hard to describe the feelings. It’s like such a huge happiness, because to be a Grand Slam champion, it’s just the best you can have.”

 

“Our name is carved on this trophy,” Mattek-Sands added. “It’s pretty cool. It’s got a lot of great names on there. We get to add ours now.”

 

Zheng, 31, already has her name on the trophy after she teamed up with compatriot Yan Zi in 2006 to win China’s first Grand Slam title, before the pair won Wimbledon later in the year. Zheng’s career highlights include reaching the singles semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2008.

 

In 2007, a 17-year-old Chan came close to adding her name to the trophy in her first Grand Slam doubles event. Chan and compatriot Chuang Chia-jung were wildcards as they knocked out Zheng and Yan in the semis in Melbourne, but in the final, the Taiwanese duo were unable to win a second-set tiebreak before losing in three to doubles legends Cara Black and Liezel Huber.

 

Source: Australian Open (www.ausopen.com); Editing by SportAsia

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