Kerber shakes off tricky Hsieh
Kerber shakes off tricky Hsieh
2016 champion Angelique Kerber completed a compelling 4-6 7-5 6-2 comeback to navigate past the tricky test of Su-Wei Hsieh to soar into the Australian Open quarterfinals.
By the end of the match Hsieh was trending worldwide on Twitter. Having defeated Garbine Muguruza in the second round, her quirky but effective brand of tennis has clearly encapsulated those watching around the globe.
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“Credit to her she played an unbelievable match,” a relieved Kerber said. “It was a very high-quality match from the first ball. I don’t know how I won, I was running everywhere and every time she had an answer. For sure we will see a lot more from her in 2018.”
“Of course, that gives me a lot of confidence that I can also turn around matches, that I can find a way to come back, especially against such a tricky style," said Kerber praising her patience. "I was trying to control my emotions. I think this is also a big part of my improvement, and this is what we will try to do even better."
Kerber made a confident start and posted an instant 2-0 lead as the German looked to replicate her sizzling form in dismantling Maria Sharapova in the third round.
However, Hsieh began to demonstrate the full artillery of her crafty game.
The world No.88 cut a disguised backhand cross court winner to restore parity for 3-3 and then held courtesy of a seemingly nonchalant drive volley.
The Chinese Taipei No.1 capitalised upon Kerber’s central striking and had the 2016 champion sprawling from corner to corner in exhausting rallies.
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Kerber dismissed a set point with a backhand rocketed down the line, but moments later a cruel net cord dropped over the net for Hsieh to steal the opener.
The German’s fans had cause for concern, the two-time Grand Slam champion is an exemplary front runner, but only had seven previous major victories from a set down.
An athletic mid-flight backhand smash kept Kerber in touch at the start of the second, before the 30-year-old stretched to launch a fizzing forehand cross-court passing shot to help stamp 2-2 on the scoreboard.
The trickery and wrong footing continued as Hsieh dissolved three break chances for the 21st seed, before Kerber was finally rewarded for her persistence, when an arrowed backhand winner grasped a 4-3 lead.
A loose game immediately surrendered the advantage and Kerber required another moment of magic as the catalyst for her comeback.
The Sydney champion chased down a Hsieh drop shot and managed to push a forehand around the net post.
“Inside I was so happy because I’ve never played a shot like that. I’ve a lot of other players hit balls like that around the net, so that was amazing," she said.
“I was everywhere today, inside and outside of the court, she made me run everywhere,” added Kerber. “She played a lot of shots into the corners, made a lot of drop shots, so I was trying to simply bring it back.”
It still wasn’t going her way, a challenge on a Hsieh forehand saw a one millimetre margin in favour of the world No.88. Kerber simply smirked, but was now striking with much more conviction.
Eventually at 5-5, from down in a squat position, Kerber struck a bullet forehand down the line to earn the right to serve out the second set. She did emphatically, holding to love.
“In these moments I’m just trying to stay focused,” explained Kerber. “I tried to forget about the score and play every ball.”
The determined duo exchanged breaks to kick-start the decider, but the resurgence of Kerber continues to build momentum.
The 30-year-old rattled through to book a captivating quarterfinal against 17th seed Madison Keys on Wednesday.
“It’s another tough match, but it’s the quarters now. I’ll just try to continue focusing on my game. Madison is a tough opponent, but I’m feeling good here. I just want to enjoy it.”
Hsieh was buoyed to have pushed the former champion but admitted it wasn’t a formulated effort: 'I was driving her crazy,” said the world No.88 with a smirk. “I didn't have a plan. Actually, my boyfriend was looking at her game earlier this morning. I forgot to ask him how she plays, I actually had no plan to go on the court.
“I was trying to stay with my Su-Wei style, I like to play freestyle.”
That freestyle nearly pulled off an almighty shock, but it is a confident and sharp Kerber who marches on.