Taipei, May 28 (CNA) Taiwan's Chan Yung-jan had a poor start to the year and gave no indication that she would shine at the French Open, but her performance so far at Roland Garros indicates that she may be ready to match her best-ever performance at a Grand Slam event.
Countrywoman Hsieh Su-wei, on the other hand, came into the French Open on the verge of clinching a spot in the Olympic singles tournament, but faced with a tough draw, was unable to get out of the first round.
After sweeping through three qualifying matches to make the main draw of the women's singles, Chan was the star of Taiwan's contingent Monday, upsetting world No. 65 Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-1, 7-6 (8) in the first round of the year's only clay court Grand Slam event.
The 22-year-old, once heralded as Taiwan's great women's tennis hope, played steadily throughout the match, committing only 23 unforced errors to Bondarenko's 41, and kept the pressure on her opponent's serve, earning 14 break points and converting five of them.
Bondarenko, 25, stumbled through the first set with twice as many errors as Chan, but cut down on the errors in the second set to force a tie-breaker that Chan eventually won 10-8.
Though the 151st-ranked Chan has played well in Paris, she will face an even tougher test in the second round against former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, who is seeded 26th at Roland Garros.
A victory over Kuznetsova would match Chan's best showing in a Grand Slam event. She reached the third round of the French Open last year and the third round of the US Open in 2010.
Chan was ranked as high as 50th in the world in women's singles in June 2007, but her ranking has progressively fallen since then, with injuries taking their toll in the past two years.
As for Hsieh, currently ranked 64th in the world, she was within two games of completing a major upset over 18th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy before fading 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-2.
Hsieh fought tenaciously in the first set, saving seven of 10 break points against her, and limiting herself to 11 unforced errors against 15 winners.
But after breaking the Italian to take a 4-3 lead in the second set, Hsieh could not hold serve and consolidate her advantage, instead allowing Pennetta to run off the final three games.
Hsieh committed 20 unforced errors and continued to struggle on serve in the set, giving the Italian another 10 break point chances.
The veteran Taiwanese, who relies on changes of speed and direction more than power, had little left in the final set, as Pennetta's attacking style finally proved too much for Hsieh.
Hsieh is hoping to be ranked in the top 56 in women's singles by June 11 to guarantee herself a place in the Olympics. It won't be clear how much Monday's loss will hurt her bid until later in the French Open, when the results of players ranked just below her become known.
(By Elizabeth Hsu and Luke Sabatier)