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Wimbledon Tennis News • Hsieh Shocks World WTA No. 1 Simona Halep

Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan celebrates her win over Simona Halep of Romania in their third round match during the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 07 July 2018. EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA



By Richard Pagliario


Slapping her thigh in frustration, Simona Halep wore the bewildered expression of a woman arriving home only to find all the furniture in her living room rearranged.


Everything once so familiar seemed oddly out of place.


Facing creative shotmaker Su-Wei Hsieh is a disorienting experience even for Grand Slam champions.


The 32-year-old Hsieh stormed back from 2-5 down in the final set and saved a match point shocking world No. 1 Halep, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, to charge into the Wimbledon fourth round for the first time in 10 career appearances.


It is Hsieh’s first career victory over a reigning world No. 1. She did it with a spirited comeback reeling off five straight games exhorted by vocal crowd support against one of the game’s fittest players on the hottest day of the tournament.


“First time I beat a world number one is amazing for me to be there and fight against the nerve,” Hsieh said. “First set I was there, but a little bit tight. Still a little bit hard to control the balance. At 2-5 down in final set, it was a lot of support from outside that pushed me to keep fighting—thank you so much.”


In a week of stunning upsets, this was a seismic shocker.


Wearing a Nike visor, adidas skirt and wielding a racquet without a sponsor stencil in the strings, the slender Hsieh played dazzling defense, covered the court fluidly and mixed the paces and spins of her well-disguised two-hand strokes shrewdly in bouncing Halep.


The top-seeded Romanian is the ninth of the Top 10 seeds to fall before the end of the third round, which is a Wimbledon record.


The reigning Roland Garros champion’s earliest SW19 exit since she fell in the 2015 opening-round leaves seventh-seeded Karolina Pliskova as the lone Top 10 seed still standing and solidifies seven-time champion Serena Williams as the strong favorite to raise the Rosewater Dish.


When Halep’s final forehand expired in the net, Hsieh raised both arms in triumph, seemed to wipe away tears with the sleeve of her vanilla t-shirt then gave a wide smile to her support box which snapped photos of the moment.


“She played amazing,” Hsieh said of Halep. “She hit the ball hard, everything close to the lines. I have to run and fight for every point. I tried to concentrate on my game and calm down a little bit. This helps a lot.”


For Halep, it was a day of deep disappointment.


Simona Halep of Romania returns to Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan in their third round match during the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 07 July 2018. EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA

Though she battled to the final ball, the top seed converted just seven of 23 break points, squandered a 5-2 final-set lead and failed to convert match point holding a 5-4 lead on Hsieh’s serve.


Targeting the world No. 48′s backhand wing, which is her stronger side, Halep often played too hard and flat in the final stages.


Soaking up the pace calmly and redirecting flat drives cleverly, Hsieh broke back for 4-5 in the decider.


Pouncing on a 68 mph second serve, Halep hammered a backhand down the line for match point in the 10th game.


Showing pure guts under match point pressure, Hsieh stepped up and scalded a backhand winner down the line to erase match point.


Empowered, Hsieh played tremendous defense drawing errors to withstand the pressure and hold for 5-all.


Holding a game point in the 11th game, Halep blinked spitting up her fourth double fault. Curling a forehand into the corner, Hsieh broke again for 6-5.


Still, the world No. 1 wasn’t done yet. Halep jumped out to a love-30 lead in the final game. A defiant Hsieh denied two break points before Halep’s forehand failed her with two straight netted shots as a joyous Hsieh closed the biggest win of her career in two hours, 20 minutes.


Hsieh shows a soft spot for insects, picking up bugs and removing them from court, and remains a major giant killer.


All three of her Top 10 victories have come in Grand Slam play during the last year and a half.


In January, the slender world No. 82 befuddled Garbine Muguruza with clever care dispatching the Wimbledon champion, 7-6 (1), 6-4, to surge into the Australian Open third round for the first time in 10 years.


“She’s definitely a very tricky opponent, and even more if she plays well,” said Muguruza, who suffered her earliest Melbourne exit in five years.


At the 2017 Roland Garros, Hsieh stunned seventh-seeded Johanna Konta in the opening round, 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4.


In a tennis irony, Hsieh lacks a driver’s license but has been using her mischievious ball-control skills to drive opponents nuts for years.


Soaking in a monumental victory, Hsieh spent several minutes signing autographs and taking selfies with virtually every fan who approached her before departing the court.


The former world No. 1 doubles player will try to maintain the magic playing former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova in a contrasting clash on Manic Monday.


The 32nd-ranked Cibulkova was annoyed she did not receive a Wimbledon seeding and has taken out her ire on opponents. Cibulkova crushed 15th-seeded Elise Mertens, 6-2, 6-2, one round after dimissing 2017 semifinalist and home favorite Johanna Konta in straight sets.


Editors Note: Great piece by Pagliaro • The last paragraph hit me funny. Really. 32 seeds? Let’s go back to 16 seeds. It’s the way it should be, right Lloyd? Less divas or arrogant young stars for certain… (LJ)


Want a quick laugh From Dusan Vemic? click below


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