Tennis

'Freestyler' Su-wei to continue doing it her way

Hsieh Su-wei was happy to hear she had driven former champion Angelique Kerber "crazy" at the Australian Open yesterday, saying she has no plans to change her freestyling ways.

The maverick Taiwanese former doubles world No. 1 opened her box of tricks and almost cast a spell over the two-time Grand Slam winner.

Kerber eventually won 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 in 2hr 8min of riveting action to clinch a quarter-final date with Madison Keys.

An enthralled Rod Laver Arena crowd were treated to Hsieh's full repertoire of drop shots, slow-paced winners and high-looping "moon balls" as she repeatedly found incredible angles to mesmerise the German.

"I'm driving her crazy?" Hsieh asked, when told by the media she had been driving Kerber "crazy a little bit".

"Okay. It's good that you told me that," said the world No. 88. "Next time, we try to do more. It was fun to make my opponent and myself run all the time."

If Hsieh had a game plan, it worked a dream in the opening set which she won behind a dazzling array of unpredictable shot-making.

But the likeable 32-year-old revealed she had forgotten to do her homework on Kerber and was devising her strategy as the game went on.

"Actually, my boyfriend was looking at her game earlier this morning. I forgot to ask him how she plays, so, I actually have no plan to go on the court," she said.

"So I was trying to go my Su-wei style, you know."

FREESTYLE

Plan or not, she forced Kerber to the brink in the second set as the 30-year-old German served at 4-5, 0-15.

Hsieh was just three points away from a first ever Slam quarter-final in her 28th main draw appearance stretching back to the 2005 US Open.

Kerber held and broke for the crucial advantage and held to love to level the match before easing to victory in the final set.

So how would Hsieh describe "Su-wei style"?

"I like to play freestyle. When the ball comes, I decide at the last moment where to hit, so sometimes the girls think, 'Oh, I don't know where she's going to hit it'," she said.

"But sometimes, I don't know where I'm hitting it, too."

Meanwhile, another Asian player ended her Australian Open adventure yesterday.

Naomi Osaka, whose father is Haitian and mother is Japanese, lost 6-3, 6-2 to Simona Halep in 81 minutes. - AFP

Tennis