'Free spirit' Hsieh rolls into maiden Grand Slam quarter-final

Nick Mulvenney
·2-min read
Australian Open

By Nick Mulvenney

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Hsieh Su-wei said she cares not whether she wins or loses her first Grand Slam quarter-final against Naomi Osaka later this week after continuing her stunning run at the Australian Open on Sunday.

The unseeded 35-year-old from Taiwan has long been considered a doubles specialist but has developed a knack of knocking off top players in singles matches in recent years.

On Sunday, she added Czech 19th seed Marketa Vondrousova to the list with a 6-4 6-2 victory that ensured she would face U.S. Open champion Osaka in an all-Asian quarter-final.

Hsieh has played the big-hitting Japanese third seed four times with three of the encounters going to three sets, and Osaka admitted on Sunday that she was dreading the match.

Hsieh said she would probably get "smashed" by the three-times Grand Slam champion but was looking forward to testing her problem-solving skills.

"I'm quite enjoy to playing every match, even if I get tortured," the three-times Grand Slam doubles champion said.

"I don't really care I win or I lose. I just try my best and play the game. All the girls, they play different games. It's very interesting when you have some difficult situations.

"I want to try to find a way and try to get into the game. At least I try. If I lose, I don't lose anything. It's no problem for me."

Lacking a big weapon, Hsieh's game is more about placement than power and being two handed on both sides with a shot selection that defies orthodoxy can bamboozle very good players.

"She's a free spirit," said Paul McNamee, the multiple Grand Slam doubles champion who has coached her on and off for a decade.

"It's important that she's allowed to express herself. That's the same with her tennis. She kind of acts on a whim sometimes, doesn't like to plan too far ahead."

Osaka said she has no idea what Hsieh is going to come up with when they play.

"My mind can't fathom the choices she makes when she's on the court," said Osaka. "It's not fun to play, but it's really fun to watch."

Hsieh will be the oldest player to make a Grand Slam quarter-final debut in the open era when she plays Osaka but that chronological fact does not fit with her self-image.

"I try to pretend I'm only 18-years-old," she laughed. "My mentality is very young ..." I

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)