Fil-Aussie Cabrera topples countrywoman Fernandez, Huey draws first blood

 By Akio Mananes

PHOTO: Rappler

Australia-born Lizette Cabrera and partner Priscilla Hon made quick work of fellow Pinay Leylah Fernandez and pair Erin Routliffe in a Filipino heritage fair, securing a seat to the second round of the Australian Open Women’s Doubles with a 6-3, 6-1 beating on Wednesday.

The local pair went on a tidal battle with the Fernandez-Routliffe duo, picking up the driver’s seat midway through the opening salvo as they grabbed four of the five games, 6-3.

Cabrera and Hon scorched hot as they opened the second set with a 4-0 start, and while the opposing duo controlled the tempo for game five, the Aussies caught fire and never looked up.

After the women's doubles loss, Fernandez eventually set sail to her departure from the tourney as the wind also blew her chances in the women’s singles, absorbing an early first-round exit against Australian Madison Inglis, 6-4, 6-2, Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Cabrera suffered the same fate in the first round of the singles event where she got booted out by Dutch player Richel Hogenkamp, 6-4, 7-5, last week, January 13.

Representing the local country, Cabrera and Hon were classified as tournament wildcards prior to the next event, where they will head to a collision course with No. 2 ranked Japanese pair of Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara.

On the other hand, Philippine national team mainstay Treat Huey drew first blood with Indonesian partner Christopher Rungkat, clinching their first-round match against France-Indian duo Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Rohan Bopanna in comeback fashion, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2.

The No. 137 ranked in men’s doubles Heuy returned as a wildcard for the first time in four years after taking a farewell in the first round of the 2018 Australia Open doubles.

Heuy’s biggest milestone was back in the 2016 Wimbledon event where he and Belarus’ Max Mirnyi flaunted a semifinals berth, which propelled him to world No. 18th spot in ATP doubles ranking.

The 36-year-old Filipino tennis ace had reached the Australian Open mixed doubles semis in 2016, made the quarterfinals in 2014 and 2016 in the men’s doubles, won three Southeast Asian Games gold medals, and had a career renaissance in 2020 with three Challenger Cup chips.

The Heuy-Rungkat pairing now eyes a head-to-head clash with local representatives Dane Sweeny and Li Tu this Friday, January 21, 11:20 am (8:20 am PST).

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