Hsieh Su-wei's fairy tale run at the Australian Open continued yesterday when she beat Aravane Rezai 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 to reach the fourth round in Melbourne.
Having now won six singles matches on the trot, three in qualifying and three in the main draw, she next faces world No. 1 Justine Henin in what will be the biggest match of her life.
Cheered on by a small but enthusiastic group of Taiwanese fans, Hsieh started yesterday's clash against her French opponent in fine style, taking the first set in only 29 minutes.
Rezai bounced back in the second, breaking Hsieh's serve in the first game. Then, in a pattern that was repeated throughout the encounter, the Frenchwoman immediately squandered her good work, losing the next game to love. As the set went on, the 19-year-old from St Etienne looked increasingly frustrated, mixing spectacular winners with repeated unforced errors.
Hsieh broke the teenager again in the sixth game and served for the match at 5-3. However, the Taiwanese player seemed to be struck by an attack of nerves and Rezai fought back to take the game.
In the very next game Hsieh had three match points but failed to take them as Rezai hung on for dear life to make it 5-5.
The next two games went with serve and the set went to a tiebreak. Hsieh immediately claimed a mini-break before her opponent broke back.
Rezai broke again to go 5-3 up before winning the next two points, the second with an ace, to tie things up at one set apiece.
The Frenchwoman dropped her serve in the first game of the deciding set before breaking back in the fourth.
She again dropped her serve in the next game and once more in the seventh to leave Hsieh to serve for the match at 5-2.
Remarkably, Rezai still was not done, saving a match point before taking the next two games to leave Hsieh to serve for the match once again at 5-4.
Hsieh reached three match points and when Rezai sent a backhand long on the second of them, claimed an entertaining contest in just more than two hours.
The most telling statistic was the number of unforced errors. While Hsieh made 28, Rezai's 58 cost her dear as the Frenchwoman actually hit more winners, 30, to Hsieh's 24. In the end Hsieh's consistency and Rezai's inconsistency decided the match.
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Three new COVID-19 cases yesterday hit the Australian Open’s troubled buildup as a backlash grew against international tennis players flown in during a raging pandemic. Two of the new cases were players, state health officials said, taking the total infections to seven since more than 1,000 people arrived in largely COVID-19-free Australia on charter flights last week. The Victoria Department of Health and Human Services said that the two players and a third person associated with the tournament — a woman in her 20s, and two men in their 30s — had returned positive results. The year’s first Grand Slam, delayed three weeks,