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Team support, friendship leads to the golden comeback

Summer Games 5 August 2023
Wu Fang-hsien and Liang En-shuo (Chinese Taipei)

For the first 20 minutes of Saturday’s women’s doubles tennis final, it didn’t look like top-seeded Wu Fang-hsien and Liang En-shuo were going to be crowned Chengdu FISU World University Games champions.

After a disastrous start, the Chinese Taipei duo was down two breaks and 5-0 against the crowd favorites, China’s Jiang Xianyu and Guo Hanyu.

But Wu and Liang made a remarkable comeback at the Sichuan International Tennis Centre, taking the final seven games of the opening set en route to a 7-5, 6-4 triumph.

“At the beginning I’m always so nervous,” said Wu, the 59th ranked player in the world in women’s doubles who reached the third round at Wimbledon last month. “When I get onto centre court I feel like I’m one against a thousand others. I’m super nervous and I don’t know how to play tennis.”

China’s Jiang Xianyu and Guo Hanyu

“My partner always encourages me and then I play better and better.”

“I just tried to make her feel more relaxed and make her smile, so we can do better on the court,” added Liang.

Once the pair started to click, it was a completely different match.

After closing out the first set winning seven straight games, they kept the same pace in the second with an early break and never looked back.

One of the reasons they understand one another so well is they first played together in junior high school. Wu and Liang didn’t see each other for a while after that, but when they reunited last year and won an International Tennis Federation title in Tokyo, it was clear the spark hadn’t been lost.

“I think the two of us make a great team,” said Liang. “She is really good at the net and I’m good from the baseline, so it’s a really good combination.

“I just focus on my part of the job and I know she will do hers,” she added, showing full confidence in her partner.

The two support each other on the court but are also friends off the field as well.

“We have to stay in a good relationship because you know, girls always like to have some fights with each other,” laughs Wu, who immediately confirms how good friends they are.

The doubles final wasn’t the first duel of the day between Liang and Guo.

A few hours earlier, the rivals had met in a singles semifinal, which Guo won in straight sets. The Chinese will get a second shot at gold on Sunday against another opponent from Chinese Taipei, Yang Ya-Yi.

Later on Saturday, Chinese Taipei also captured the men’s doubles title as Hsu Yu-hsiou and Huang Tsung-hao defeated Jan Jermar and Victor Andres Sklenka of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3.

Written by Ana Brenčić, FISU Young Reporter