Tennis Prose




Feb/21

10

Hsieh is the most impressive tennis player I ever saw

By Scoop Malinowski

Su-Wei Hsieh performed another tennis masterpiece last night in the second round of the Australian Open, dominating and destroying Bianca Andreescu 63 62.

The 35 year old from Chinese Taipei, was in full control throughout the match, like a matador artfully outsmarting and taming a wild bull. Hsieh established her superiority early in both sets, forging 3-love leads in both sets. The former US Open champion refused to be subdued and tried desperately to turn the tables on Hsieh, who she had beaten in straight sets in 2019 at the ASB Classic. (Bibi would go on to win that title, her first in the WTA.)

Now ranked 71 in the WTA after a poor 1-8 singles record in 2020 (she is ranked no. 1 in doubles), Hsieh played brilliantly, handling Andreescu’s power and responding with replies and counters the Canadian could not cope with. No matter what Andreescu hit, Hsieh had the answers.

There were several finesse points around the net when touch and wit were needed and every time Hsieh came out on top, if the action could be described in an animalistic metaphor, it resembled a mouse toying with the cat.

While watching this display of tennis genius I came to a realization: Hsieh is the most intelligent, impressive player I ever saw play tennis. She has no striking weapons to rely on but she possesses massive banks of intellect and cleverness which she can apply to just about every reachable ball hit to her court. Her body is not built for the the physical grinds of tennis but that handicap is overcompensated by her mind, hands, feet and court sense which, in my opinion, are superior to any player alive today.

If it were possible to clone Hsieh into a male tennis player, he surely would be confounding Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer today. If only the ATP had a Hsieh!

It took a long time for Hsieh to evolve into the player she is today. From 2008 to 2017 Hsieh lost every time (14 matches) to the top ten ranked players, yesterday’s win was her eighth win vs a top ten player since 2017.

Hsieh is a sporting miracle. She defies all the logic of the tennis court. She disproves that physicality rules the sport. If there is one athlete from other sports to compare to Hsieh, only one comes to mind. Wayne Gretzky. “The Great Gretzky” was an almost scrawny physical figure with unimpressive musculature, who looked like he could barely do 20 pushups but he led the NHL in scoring for 11 seasons and scored 1007 goals and won four Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers.

Hsieh may not have enough strength to win a singles major at age 35, but as far as pure tennis performance, you will be hard-pressed to find a more impressive, gutsy and crafty competitor than this sensational Asian marvel.

Postmatch Quotes:

Hsieh: “I normally feel more excited to play with the better players because they have all the skills in the court so you need to find a way to get through and play your game. It’s always not easy. ”

“She can do everything on court, so you always will get some surprise, and sometimes, you don’t know if it’s good for you or bad for you so I try to manage some of the emotion there.”

“I was thinking that I lost last time, so I need to be little bit stronger on the court. And last year, I was in the same court for the final of doubles and I was not doing very good, so I hope, I was thinking, ‘I hope I play a little bit better today.'”

Andreescu: “I’m just disappointed that today that was my all because I know I gave my all today and to me I think that was the most disappointing part and that was like my initial evaluation of the match.”

“She played really well. I have to give credit to her. I definitely have to get back into the groove of things, and hopefully that will be sooner than later.

“I did play her before in Auckland and I played really, really well that match. She also played well. So today even in those tough moments [today], I thought I could break her a little bit, but she was on every single ball. I had a little bit of experience of what I was going to expect and I knew she was a really, really tough opponent. She likes to change it up, all that stuff. She’s good at the net. She can come in. She can literally redirect any single ball you give her. Her serve doesn’t have a lot of pace on it, but she can place it very well… The fact that she can change the rhythm. I know I can change rhythm too, but she’s just on another level, at least today.” “

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10 comments

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 10, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    It’s interesting that Hsieh is very popular with a wide range of other players. Friendly players who regularly comment positive support on her Instagram page are Kontaveit, Jenn Brady, Danielle Collins, Strycova, and Hsieh always comments support for Swiatek posts. She really likes Iga.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 10, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    Next up for Hsieh is Errani. Errani leads the h2h 3-0, all in straight easy sets. Errani may be Hsieh’s Kryptonite…

    2017 Istanbul Errani 6-0 6-1

    2014 Doha Errani 6-0 6-4

    2008 Palermo Errani 6-1 6-0

  • Bill McGill · February 10, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    The ATP tour had a Hsieh. He retired in 2010. He was also from a Pacific island nation, was under-sized, had a better doubles than singles career, had a style of play that was highly irregular, bothered some players more than others and had many notable wins over top 10 opponents despite never being a top singles player. Like Hsieh, he also had a long career. What was his name?

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 10, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    Bill I just wracked my brain thinking about this for two minutes and am completely stumped. Please help me out!

  • Bill McGill · February 10, 2021 at 4:13 pm

    It’s Fabrice Santoro. I made the question extra difficult with the island in the Pacific reference. If I had said Frenchman, you would have gotten it immediately. But Santoro was actually born in Tahiti.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 10, 2021 at 5:29 pm

    Good set up Bill. I was wracking my head for an Asian, I did know but forgot Santoro was born in Tahiti. Similar players and careers indeed, excellent observation. Next time I see Santoro I will ask him his thoughts on her. Also will discuss Hsieh with MacNamee who probably knows her best of anyone in tennis, as he’s coached he for almost a decade off and on. Maybe a Facing Hsieh feature too.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 10, 2021 at 5:30 pm

    I have interviewed Santoro and Hsieh and both are very very friendly nice engaging fun people to interview. Very good vibes from each. They are similar in that regard.

  • catherine · February 11, 2021 at 1:07 am

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 11, 2021 at 8:58 am

    Catherine, thanks for that link. It seemed to blame Hsieh for Andreescu’s bad match. I was surprised Andreescu did not employ her own arsenal of variety shots and tactics, she played a very uncustomary one dimensional match, she is known for her variety and trickery but opted not to play that way. Wrong gameplan I guess. Andreescu should have known what to expect, she beat Hsieh in 2019.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 11, 2021 at 11:21 pm

    Another miracle masterpiece by Hsieh. WOn doubles yesterday 64 in third. Was down 53 in third to Errani and won four games in a row for 75. Against a player she had never won a set from before in 3 matches. Hsieh continues to defy logic at age 35. Plays Vondrousova next who she beat earlier this year 76 in the third. Serena survived Potapova who was b

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