WTA 2018 best Grand Slam matches: Hsieh shocked Halep at Wimbledon

The Taiwanese came back from 2-5 in the decider and reached the fourth round in multiple majors for the first time in a single season

by Alessandro Mastroluca
WTA 2018 best Grand Slam matches: Hsieh shocked Halep at Wimbledon

Hsieh Su-Wei was on fire on No.1 Court at Wimbledon. The Taiwanese came back from 2-5 down in the final set and saved 2 break points in the final game to claim her first win over a reigning world No.1 as she beat Simona Halep 36 64 75.

"I was leading the match, I was up, and I couldn't finish it. I'm not hard. I'm just realistic and honest with myself. I accept that it was an unprofessional attitude from me today," said Halep who came to the Championships on a high note having won her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros.

"I just was too negative to myself, talking too much. I think because I was tired because I'm tired, I couldn't stay focused for every ball," she added. "It is amazing," Hsieh said. "She played amazing, I had to run and fight for every point.

I tried to concentrate on my game and calm down a bit, that helped a lot. There was a lot of support from outside that pushed me and I kept fighting." According to Tracy Austin, the two-time Grand Slam champion, who works for BBC TV, Hsieh prevailed in a “high-quality tennis match.

There are similarities between both players, both have a powerful serve, hit the ball flat, incredible defensively and are quick about the court". Halep won the only previous meeting at 2013 Cincinnati against the Taiwanese who lost her only encounter with a current No.1 against Sharapova in the third round at 2012 Wimbledon.

She was the first to hold serve after five consecutive breaks to open the match and despite winning only 15 points on her serve, took the first set. But as the second set got underway Hsieh showed her peculiar game, her creative improvisation to open a 2-1 lead.

The match suddenly became a tricky test for the French Open champion. The Taiwanese, who confessed that she often hasn't a clear idea about how to play her next stroke as she comes to the ball, held to love to take the second set and force Halep for the first time to a decider at this year's Championships.

Hsieh lost her serve to 0-2 as Halep built what seemed like an unassailable lead. The reigning world No.1 had reached at least the quarterfinals in her last three appearances at Wimbledon, losing to Johanna Konta in the 2017 semifinal when she was just a handful of points away from coming to the top of the rankings.

Comfortably, Halep moved to 5-2 up in the decider. From that moment, however, Hsieh continued to offer glimpses of her stunning variety and gained huge respect among the Wimbledon fans. "With the 5-2 down, normally you feel like, 'Okay, you are close to finishing the match,' so you run harder.

You need to try to hit the ball a little bit heavier. Simona, the best players, they're going to smash you at this moment. I tried to hang in there at 5-2," Hsieh said, as WTATennis.com reported. "I don't feel I can win this. In 5-2, against this big player on the big court, you could get smashed, a love game like this.

It's not easy. I just try to run as much as I can, try to catch every ball”. The crowd, she explained to BBC after the match, pushed her to fight back. At 4-5, Hsieh drilled a jaw-dropping backhand to rescue match point and level at 5-5.

Apparently exhausted a few games earlier, she found new energy to put her opponent on the ropes. On Hsieh’s second match point, Halep netted a discouraged return against a fatigued second serve “Yes, this is the biggest win of my career and the first over a world No.1,” Hsieh told the BBC.

“I was a bit tight in the first set but was happy in the second set. Two games down in the third set I kept fighting. I tried to concentrate on my game and it helped a lot. I enjoy everything here – the strawberries, the shops, everything.

On court, I just try to feel free. She played amazing. Every ball close to the line. If I didn’t fight, I wouldn’t have got through. I’m very happy.” Hsieh failed to capitalize on her massive win as she fell to Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets.

The match was marked by a controversial point at 0-30 on Hsieh's serve in the tenth game of the first set. “For me is really normal. You always have some argument or something happens on the court, and I know if I don't go and talk to her and fight for this point it's Love-40, and I was not winning my serve, so I was, like, Oh, my God, I need to go there and try to talk to the chair umpire and try to ask her to ask the referee to come.

I hope they're gonna give me this point to give me a chance to do a replay. Finally, they did, so I was very happy. I have nothing to say about this” she said in the press conference, while Cibulkova said after the game she felt it was unfair because the decision was changed.

Hsieh, who had shocked Muguruza in Australia, reached the second week in multiple majors in the same season for the first time but lost again to Cibulkova at the Us Open second round. However, she ended the year winning her first WTA title since 2012 at Hiroshima.

That win propelled Hsieh to reach her second-highest year-end career rank at No.28. Halep began a nine-match winning streak after Wimbledon as she claimed the title in Montreal and lost to Bertens in the final in Cincinnati.

But she finished the season suffering another shocking defeat at Us Open to Kaia Kanepi. It was the first time in the Open Era the No.1 seed in the women’s draw at the US Open has fallen at the opening hurdle. She finished as the year-end world No.1 although she had to withdraw from the WTA Finals. She ended the season with four consecutive defeats, her longest losing streak since 2012