Australian Open 2018

Hsieh's tricks befuddle Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza sticking her tongue out in searing conditions at the Rod Laver Arena. The Spanish world No. 3 was also unable to overcome the challenge of Chinese Taipei's Hsieh Su-wei in their second-round match at the Australian Open, becoming the
Garbine Muguruza sticking her tongue out in searing conditions at the Rod Laver Arena. The Spanish world No. 3 was also unable to overcome the challenge of Chinese Taipei's Hsieh Su-wei in their second-round match at the Australian Open, becoming the highest seed to crash out so far.PHOTOS: REUTERS
Garbine Muguruza sticking her tongue out in searing conditions at the Rod Laver Arena. The Spanish world No. 3 was also unable to overcome the challenge of Chinese Taipei's Hsieh Su-wei in their second-round match at the Australian Open, becoming the
Garbine Muguruza sticking her tongue out in searing conditions at the Rod Laver Arena. The Spanish world No. 3 was also unable to overcome the challenge of Chinese Taipei's Hsieh Su-wei in their second-round match at the Australian Open, becoming the highest seed to crash out so far.PHOTOS: REUTERS

Wimbledon winner falls to unusual array of shots, makes 43 unforced errors in early exit

MELBOURNE • Chinese Taipei's Hsieh Su-wei will not forget her first career encounter with two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza in a hurry.

For a minute shy of two hours yesterday, the 32-year-old outplayed one of the tournament favourites in searing heat to record just her third win against players ranked in the top 20 in 17 years on Tour.

World No. 3 Muguruza's sledgehammer groundstrokes that took her past Venus Williams to last year's Wimbledon title proved futile as she slumped to a 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 second-round defeat by Hsieh at the Rod Laver Arena.

"It's never easy to play against top 20 girls," said Hsieh, whose previous best at Melbourne Park was a last-16 defeat by Justine Henin 10 years ago. "I think mentally for sure they are much better than us, so when we go on the court we forget who is them, and focus on our game. I do a little bit better today and try to hang in there.

"I know the weather is going to be a little bit tough today because I hear weather going to be over 39 degrees. I was thinking, Ah, I'm from Asia. I maybe can handle it better than other girls."

She certainly handled the furnace-like conditions better than Muguruza, who needed treatment early on for her heat-blistered feet.

But the Spaniard, 24, had no remedy when her heaviest hits were returned in unusual places. And to make matters worse, she was often left flat-footed by her opponent's punchy and flat double-handed groundstrokes.

  • DAY 4 SELECTED RESULTS

  • MEN, 2ND RD: Tennys Sandgren (USA) bt Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui) 6-2 6-1 6-4, Roger Federer (Sui) bt Jan-Lennard Struff (Ger) 6-4 6-4 7-6(7-4), Marton Fucsovics (Hun) bt Sam Querrey (USA) 6-4 7-6 (8-6) 4-6 6-2, Nicolas Kicker (Arg) bt Lukas Lacko (Svk) 6-2 7-5 1-6 7-5, Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt Gael Monfils (Fra) 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-3, Julien Benneteau (Fra) bt David Goffin (Bel) 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 7-6(7-4).

    WOMEN, 2ND RD Bernarda Pera (USA) bt Johanna Konta (Gbr) 6-4 7-5, Karolina Pliskova (Cze) bt Beatriz Haddad Maia (Bra) 6-1 6-1, Naomi Osaka (Jpn) bt Elena Vesnina (Rus) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2, Madison Keys (USA) bt Ekaterina Alexandrova (Rus) 6-0 6-1. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"She's definitely a very tricky opponent," Muguruza, the highest seed to fall so far, said after chalking up 43 enforced errors. "I think today she played well. I maybe could have done things better, but at the end, she deserves to win."

It was an honest appraisal. Apart from when she recovered from 2-5 down in the first set and a brief rally at the end of the second, Muguruza was inferior against the former world doubles No. 1 whose box of tricks featured several shots not found in any tennis textbook.

Hsieh was especially productive on her backhand, guiding 12 winners past her opponent, the last one coming on match point.

"Today I tried to hit the ball a little bit harder because I didn't want to let her destroy me on the court," said the world No. 88 Hsieh, who will face a player very much in her mould in Poland's 26th seed Agnieszka Radwanska tomorrow.

  • MELBOURNE PARK SNIPPETS

  • STAT OF THE DAY

    39.9

    Temperatures peaked during Novak Djokovic's second-round clash with Gael Monfils. The Rod Laver Arena court surface was 69 deg C.

"I practise top spin, flat balls, slice. I try to practise all the stuff. So against different players, I try to do a little bit different stuff."

The biggest third-round clash in the women's draw will see former champions Angelique Kerber and Maria Sharapova go head to head.

Kerber celebrated her 30th birthday yesterday with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Donna Vekic while Sharapova, also a former world No. 1, defeated Anastasija Sevastova 6-1, 7-6 (7-4).

 
A LIVING HELL
 
I train this winter in Miami. Was pretty hot. I thought I was very good. I'm telling you, I was dying on the court for 40 minutes.
 
GAEL MONFILS, the world No. 39, after being told it will be 42 deg C in Melbourne Park today. The Frenchman fell to Djokovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in 2hr 45min.

"I look forward to these matches," 2008 winner Sharapova, ranked 48th after returning from a 15-month ban last April, said. "I want to be playing against opponents that have former Grand Slam champions. She's had success playing out here in these conditions on these courts. I want to see where I am on that level."

The Russian has a 4-3 edge in their meetings, but Kerber won their last two encounters in Stuttgart (2015) and Wimbledon (2014).

"It's another tough match here," said the German world No. 16. "We both played in the past a lot of good matches. I know that I have to play my best tennis again."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Day 5: Singtel TV Ch114/115 & StarHub Ch208/209, 8am & 4pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2018, with the headline 'Hsieh's tricks befuddle Muguruza'. Print Edition | Subscribe