ZIMBABWE’S Cara Black and Colombia’s Juan Sebastian Cabal qualified for the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles competition at the Australian Open after a hard fought second round match in Melbourne yesterday.
Black and Cabal, who are seeded fifth, defeated the unseeded duo of American Lisa Raymond and Robert Lindsted of Sweden 6-4, 5-7 (14-12) in a close contest that lasted one hour and 32 minutes.
The winning duo hit 34 winners compared to 26 by their opponents and committed eight unforced errors, five fewer than the losing team while claiming 78 points in total.
They will next play the victor of the second round match between the third seeds Kristina Mladenovic from France and Canada’s Daniel Nestor and the pair of Netherlands’ Michaella Krajicek and Romania’s Florin Mergea.
Black, who is nearing the twilight of her professional tennis career, will be desperate to do well in the mixed doubles after suffering an early exit in the women’s doubles last week.
The 35-year-old Harare-born veteran player and her playing partner Saisai Zheng from China crashed out in the first round of the Australian Open women’s doubles event, suffering a shock straight-set defeat at the hands of Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski Alicja Rosolska from Poland.
Black will be hoping to atone for last week’s disappointing early exit with a better run in the mixed doubles where she claimed the coveted title in 2010 with India’s Leander Paes.
Meanwhile, one of Zimbabwe’s brightest tennis prospects, Tadiwa Chinamo, claimed his maiden title on the ITF Junior Circuit after winning both the singles and doubles competitions at the 7th Fujairah ITF Junior Championships in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday.
The 16-year-old rising star clinched the singles title after beating Syria’s Kareem Allaf 7-6 (2), 6-2 in the final of the Under-18 doubles competition. Chinamo then later combined with Allaf to win the doubles title after defeating the South African duo of Calvin Jordaan and JD Malan 7-6, 6-1 in the final.
The wins in the UAE will come as a major confidence boost for Chinamo, who is expected to lead Zimbabwe’s charge at the prestigious Under-18 African Junior Championships (AJC) to be held in Morocco in March.