Hsieh Su-wei falls victim to comeback, Miami run comes to an end

TAIPEI (CNA) – Hsieh Su-wei’s (謝淑薇) dramatic run at the Miami Open came to an end Tuesday when her former practice partner Anett Kontaveit of Estonia pulled back from a 4-0 deficit in the final set to snatch a quarterfinal victory over the Taiwanese veteran.

Hsieh was knocked out by the 23-year-old Kontaveit 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours in the Premier Mandatory event and felt she may have let up because of her big advantage in the final set.

“Sometimes when you’re leading by a lot, you get a little bit relaxed, and you don’t hit the ball as hard as you were before,” she was quoted as saying in a WTA website story.

The match reminded Hsieh of her tussle with Japan’s Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open when she was up a set and 4-2, 40-0 before letting the match get away from her.

The 33-year-old Hsieh also credited Kontaveit for the comeback and did not use a physical problem as an excuse.

“I had a little pulled muscle but I didn’t want to call the physio. I was thinking I could keep trying, trying, trying,” Hsieh was quoted as saying in the WTA story.

“The pulled muscle was just small stuff, and she did really well to come back after 4-0 because I was playing so good. She did a good job to get revenge, and next time I need to be careful.” Though she lost a winnable match Tuesday, Hsieh was still pleased with her strong start to 2019 in which she has defeated five top-20 players and hauled in enough ranking points to move her close to her career-high singles ranking of No. 23 in the coming week.

In Miami, she stunned world No. 1 Osaka in three sets after being two points away from defeat and followed that up with another three-set gem against former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark to reach the quarterfinals, despite having low expectations entering the event.

“It’s incredible when you’re not practicing well, but you get on the court, forget how you did in practice, play a few good matches, and you win them. That’s quite amazing,” she told WTA reporter David Kane.

“I’m happy with how we’re doing and I’m thankful for my team. They’re doing a great job getting me into the matches.” Hsieh was also ousted from the Miami Open doubles on Tuesday after she and partner Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic fell 7-6 (3), 2-6, 1-0 (3) in a round of 16 matches against the in-form duo of Elise Mertens of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Mertens and Sabalenka are coming off a win in the BNP Paribas Open doubles 10 days ago.

Despite Hsieh’s exit from both the singles and doubles events Tuesday, Taiwan was still alive at the Miami Open as sisters Latisha Chan and Chan Hao-ching edged through to the semifinals with a 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 (8) win over Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Daria Kasatkina of Russia in 90 minutes.

Chan Hao-ching clinched the match with a drop volley winner off a strong down-the-line service return by Bencic, leading Latisha to describe her as “a wall at the net” on Facebook.

The duo, seeded eighth in Miami, actually won fewer points than their opponents but took advantage of 80 percent of their break points and survived a 10-8 super tiebreaker for the second time in three matches.

They will play the winner of the showdown pitting Samantha Stosur of Australia and Zhang Shuai of China against Monica Niculescu of Romania and Abigail Spears of the United States, to be played Wednesday local time.

By Luke Sabatier