Zhang, Machac fall short in dramatic men's doubles semifinal at Australian Open

(Xinhua) 15:02, January 25, 2024

MELBOURNE, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The barnstorming run of China's Zhang Zhizhen and Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic at the Australian Open ended on Thursday as they fell short in a thrilling men's doubles semifinal to second seeds Matthew Ebden and Rohan Bopanna.

The unseeded Chinese-Czech pairing had unexpectedly made a strong tilt at the title, but were halted by doubles specialists Ebden and Bopanna 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7).

The Australian-Indian pairing were finalists at last year's US Open, but have yet to win a Grand Slam title together. They will face either Italians Simone Bolelli/Andrea Vavassori or German pair Yannick Hanfmann/Dominik Koepfer in the final.

Ebden and Bopanna broke in the fourth game and then consolidated as they rolled through the first set. There was a brief delay early in the second set with the roof on the Rod Laver Arena needing to be shut due to drizzle.

It seemed to change the momentum with Zhang and Machac breaking in the fourth game and soon leveling the match. Ebden and Bopanna regrouped and led 5-2 before Zhang and Machac fought back, saving three match points in the 10th game.

But the experience of Ebden and Bopanna came to the fore as they clinched a spot in the final after a dramatic 10-point tiebreak.

Zhang, who is ranked 625th in doubles, had enjoyed a spectacular run with Machac, highlighted by their third-round upset over doubles specialists and third seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.

Thursday's loss ended the Australian Open campaign of Zhang, China's highest-ranked men's singles player, as he had fallen in the second round to 21st seed Ugo Humbert in four sets.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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