survives Hsieh scare to reach fourth round
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[January 19, 2019]
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - U.S. Open
champion Naomi Osaka survived a huge scare against Hsieh Su-wei
before overhauling the Taiwanese 5-7 6-4 6-1 to reach the fourth
round of the Australian Open on Saturday.
The Japanese fourth seed was staring down the barrel at 4-2 in the
second set at Margaret Court Arena, driven to distraction by
double-sided Hsieh's angled shots and stout defense.
When Hsieh's serve suddenly crumbled, however, Osaka was quick to
pounce and went on to claim 10 of the last 11 games, closing out the
match in just under two hours.
"Of course I'm happy with how I fought," Osaka told reporters after
booking her second last 16 appearance in Melbourne after last year's
"For me, that's, like, one of the biggest things I always thought I
could improve, because it sort of seems like before I would accept
defeat in a way."
She will play 13th seeded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova for a first
quarter-finals berth at Melbourne Park.
Osaka will hope to erase the Hsieh match from mind by then, having
been hopelessly outpointed for the best part of two sets by a player
whose unorthodox game regularly troubles the Tour's top names.
She was broken three times in the first set and pounded her racket
into the court in frustration during the sixth game after falling
The 21-year-old saved two set points in the first stanza, with a
blazing forehand down the line and an ace, but fell on the third
when Hsieh hammered a strong return that Osaka could only parry
Furious with herself, Osaka threw her racket in disgust to earn a
code violation and promptly dropped serve again to trail 2-0 in the
Firing baseline rockets wide and long, Osaka appeared clueless as to
how to stop the rot and resorted to drop shots and moon balls to try
to throw Hsieh off her game.
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Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts during the match against Taiwan's Hsieh
Su-Wei. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
None of it worked.
"I tried doing things that I know isn't necessarily my game, like I
was trying to hit higher balls," she said. "I don't even practise
doing that. So it felt like such a waste.
"Then after a while, I just started thinking that I'm in a Grand
Slam. I shouldn't be sad, I'm playing against a really great player,
so I should just enjoy my time and try and put all my energy into
doing the best that I can on every point."
Hsieh moved calmly to 4-2 before suffering a quick and inexplicable
loss of serving power.
At 40-0 and needing only one good serve to reach 5-2, the
33-year-old could barely clear the net and Osaka leaped on the short
balls, winning five points in succession to break back.
Hsieh admitted she had frozen with nerves.
"I was doing pretty well until the second set. I became, 'OK, I'm
leading, I'm leading'," said Hsieh, wrapping her hands round her
throat in a choking gesture.
From there on it was a procession, as Osaka found her range and
racked up 41 winners on the way to a galvanising victory.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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