Giant-killer Zoe Hives has proven to be ageing Patty Schnyder’s nemesis – again – in a clinical display that the once world No.7 was helpless to stop on Thursday evening.
The unseeded Ballarat product broke Schnyder’s serve three times to deliver a 6-4, 6-2 victory to march onto the quarter-finals of the 2018 Launceston International.
Hives shocked the 39-year-old Swiss veteran just last week in the first round of the Burnie International.
That win came when the 302nd ranked female in the world was handed out a wildcard and the tournament third-seed Schnyder had never seen Hives on court.
This time around the No.1 Launceston seed came out more aggressive, but was left exasperated at times against the strokeplay of Hives.
“It was a challenge I had to back up and play someone like that,” Hives said.
“Someone who has been so good because I knew she was going to come out and really want to beat me.
“I just knew she was going to try some different things against me because last time it didn’t work obviously.”
Hives has no vivid memory of her rival’s starring career that started professionally in 1994 and had included wins over 11 past world No.1 stars.
But that has worked in the 21-year-old’s favour with no sign of intimidation apparent on centre court in front of a healthy Launceston crowd.
“I had the belief – I knew I could do it because I had already done it,” Hives said.
“It was a challenge in a different sense this week.”
Hives broke early in the first set and held serve, as the pair traded baseline rallies.
But the 2004 Australian Open semi-finalist was also ran ragged side to side.
The humble winner insisted that exposing the tiring legs of Schnyder wasn’t the centrepiece of her strategy.
I had the belief – I knew I could do it because I had already done itZoe Hives
Hives herself bolted off court immediately after the match to get physiotherapy done on “a bit of everything”.
“She still moves pretty well – for her age, she’s pretty fit,” Hives laughed.
“So it wasn’t an age thing.”
When Hives, who reached the semi-finals in Burnie, did not concede a point against serve to go 5-2 up in the second, Schnyder’s lingering resistance was broken. Schnyder only had good things to say about her opponent.
“She’s a good player – she just playing great,” Schnyder said, “lots of angle movement and she was really tough.”
The unfavourable hardcourt, the power strokes and the heavier balls worked against the crowd favourite that insists she is still playing the circuit in her comeback to enjoy the game these days.
“I just really have loved and also had a great time in Tasmania,” Schnyder said.
“I’ve practised a lot here, but we’ve also gone to the beach and sightseeing too.”