Hsieh Su-wei stunned the world after she shocked world number one and title favourite Simona Halep in the third round of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships, an upset which surprisingly came after two hours and 20-minutes of play. The Taiwanese played some of the best tennis of her career, recovering from a set down to triumph 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 after saving a match point and coming from 2-5 down in the deciding set, prevailing to reach the second week at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for the first time in her career.
The former doubles world number one came into the encounter against the current top-ranked singles player as the massive underdog and a routine win looked possible for Halep after she claimed the first set 6-3. However, Hsieh came roaring back into contention with her unique style of tennis and ultimately set up a meeting with Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round. This is Hsieh’s third top-10 win of her career, which all came in the past 14 months at the Majors.
Halep overcomes a huge scare
It was an interesting battle of contrasting styles although the upset alert was not switched on until the middle of the second set. Hsieh’s variety will bring trouble to any opponent but it was thought that Halep will have enough power and confidence to hit the Taiwanese off the court with ease. However, the world number 48’s unique style and technique won over the crowd and more importantly, managed to disturb Halep.
Nonetheless, five consecutive service breaks started the match as the encounter was unexpectedly filled with errors but there were still several impressive rallies between both players. After what seemed like an eternity, Halep earned the first service hold but not without any issues as she lost a 40-0 lead and was dragged to deuce twice before holding her nerves to consolidate the break.
Hsieh soon followed suit and she even had to fend off a break point in the process, doing so with a fantastic one-two punch. Another marathon game arrived upon us, but the underdog missed the golden opportunity to level the scores as she sent an open forehand straight into the net, paving the way for Halep to narrowly hold her serve and place herself just a game away from winning the first set. Hsieh’s struggles on her serve continued, as she was broken for the fourth time to lose the set 3-6 after 42 minutes of play.
Hsieh unexpectedly fights back
For the first time in the match, Hsieh took the lead with an absurd backhand down-the-line winner while being on the defence, breaking serve and drawing the first blood. Halep was struggling to finish off most of the points despite being on the aggression during the majority of the time, and Hsieh’s defence was ridiculously good as she often saved herself from the brink.
Halep was firing on all cylinders, though, after firing multiple forehand winners to grab back the immediate break and grabbed three consecutive games for a 4-3 lead which pushed her closer to the win. However, a slew of unforced errors ruined the Romanian’s rhythm and she allowed Hsieh to have a way back into the match. The Taiwanese took full advantage and capitalized on her chances, eventually serving out the second set to love and levelled the scores after 79 minutes of play.
Hsieh comes back from the brink and saves a match point
The quality of the third and deciding set was immense, with both players displaying some high-quality tennis while the scores were being kept extremely tight. Halep started on a positive note, breaking serve early with the help of several uncharacteristic unforced errors by Hsieh. However, the world number one was broken straight back at the first time of asking, with Hsieh’s unpredictable play providing the crowd out on Court No.1 a thrilling match-up.
Despite the Taiwanese’s tough efforts, she soon fell into a 1-4 deficit within a blink of an eye as Halep triumphed on all the important points — though that phenomenon completely changed towards the conclusion of the match. Halep eased to a commanding 5-2 lead but Hsieh was able to stay in the match with confident service holds.
Just when people thought it may be too late for Hsieh to produce a comeback, she produced stunning consecutive return winners which ultimately paved the way for her to break back out of nowhere, lessening the deficit to just one solitary game. A fearless backhand down-the-line by Hsieh saw her fending off match point on her serve, a shot which changed the outcome of the match.
Surviving the nervy game which saw Hsieh go on the defence for most of the points, but yet prevailing, the underdog went on to claim another break as Halep committed unforced errors during the crucial moments to hand the break after missing out on three game points. Serving for the match, Hsieh fended off another two break points before Halep sent a return straight into the net on the underdog’s first match point, leaving the crowd roaring for Hsieh, who earned the biggest win of her career.