Warring Taiwan-China tennis duo trade shots over trainer

Peng Shuai from China, see in this file photo, and doubles partner Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan have hit social media in a row over their fitness trainer, with the former world top-ranked pair suggesting they will split.

TAIPEI — Tennis stars Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan and doubles partner Peng Shuai from China have hit social media in a row over their fitness trainer, with the former world top-ranked pair suggesting they will split.

The cross-strait duo reunited earlier this year for a storming run at the Australian Open, where they got as far as the semifinals. They also reached the final of a WTA tournament in Dubai earlier this month, losing out to another Taiwan-China partnership.

But it seems the honeymoon is over. In posts on her Weibo account, which have since been removed, Peng said Hsieh was upset that their fitness trainer was helping her and had threatened to end their partnership.

"Now it is all over, not only on the court, but also nearly 20 years of friendship will end right here," she said. Hsieh wrote just a short response on her Weibo account, saying: "Thanks for stealing my only fitness trainer. Bye bye."

In a later post Sunday, Peng appeared to be bidding Hsieh farewell. "Our encounter was so brief as if it were a dream," she wrote. "I wish you well, my old partner!"

The pair are affectionately dubbed the "crab duo" by their fans because a combination of their last names sound like the Chinese word for "crab".

They often post photos of themselves together on social media, including pictures of them sharing a cake in January to celebrate both their 32nd birthdays, which are just four days apart.

Hsieh and Peng first played together as teenagers and together won a series of titles including Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open the following year, catapulting them both to the No. 1 doubles crown.

They parted for the first time in 2014 and their doubles rankings have since slipped — Hsieh is ranked 27th and Peng is in 31st place.

Hsieh is known not only for her maverick playing style, but also for her feisty temperament. She pulled out of the Olympic doubles event in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, protesting that her personal coach was not allowed to travel with the Taiwan team.

Hsieh proclaimed she would never play for Taiwan's national team again, but made a comeback in the singles tournament at the Australian Open, coming close to advancing to her first ever Grand Slam singles quarterfinal and only just losing out to Angelique Kerber. — AFP