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Chani out in 3rd round

Top-ranked South African women’s player Chani Scheepers went out of the Australian Open in the third round at Melbourne on Friday.

Despite putting up a brave fight, Scheepers, 26, was beaten in straight sets by Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, writes Mark Etheridge.

The final score read 6-3 6-3 in favour of the eighth seed in a match that lasted an hour and 24 minutes.

Still, Harrismith-born Scheepers can take heart from a gritty display against the world’s ninth ranked player. Scheepers went into the tournament in 107th spot on the WTA rankings.

Scheepers had a first serve percentage of 67% to her opponent’s 78%. There was only one ace in the match, served by Azarenka.

The South African also suffered four double-faults to her opponents’ one and in the unforced errors department there were 24 from Scheepers and just 13 from Azarenka.

Even though she lost this battle, Scheepers still went the furthest she’s been in the Australian Open. Last year she reached the fourth round in the French Open in Paris.

Scheepers is also expected to be back in SA later this month for a visit during which she’ll watch the South African Open, starting in Johannesburg on January 31.

Meanwhile South Africa’s Natalie Grandin and her Czech Republic partner Vladimira Uhlirova moved through the third round of the women’s doubles. They beat Michaella Krajiceck of the Netherlands and Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic 6-0 6-4 and face the possibility of a match-up with seventh seeds Julia Goerges (Ger) and Lisa Raymond (US).