Taiwanese veteran Hsieh Su-wei reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for only the second time yesterday, when she rolled past Agnieszka Radwanska at the Australian Open.
Hsieh, who knocked out third seed Garbine Muguruza in the second round, followed up with an assured 6-2, 7-5 victory over the Polish former world No. 2 in 1 hour, 39 minutes.
Her reward is a last-16 clash with the 2016 champion, Angelique Kerber.
“I come back to the big court again” an excited Hsieh said when told she would face Kerber, but could she take a third big-name scalp at Melbourne?
“I don’t know,” she said. “But I will try.”
It is 10 years since Hsieh last progressed so far in a Grand Slam singles, also at the Australian Open, where she lost to Belgian great Justine Henin.
“It’s amazing to make the fourth round again after 10 years,” the world No. 88 said after the win.
Radwanska, seeded 26, had treatment for a left knee injury which needed taping during the second set.
The experienced Hsieh took advantage by mixing up her baseline game with a dizzying repertoire of drop shots and lobs which made for a wonderfully entertaining match.
Radwanska hung in despite her injury, breaking back twice in the second set to 2-2 and 4-4.
“It’s always hard to win the last game to beat a great player. It was very intense for me,” Hsieh said after punching the air in delight as she secured victory on her second match point.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic kept up their relentless march toward a semi-final meeting as Maria Sharapova suffered a crushing defeat by Kerber.
The two greats of the game — who have won 11 Australian Opens between them — could meet in the last four if they maintain their winning ways.
Defending champion Federer was never troubled by France’s Richard Gasquet, who has failed to take a set off him since 2011, as he steamed into the last 16 with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 win.
“The second set was tight, the match was close and I had to focus to the very end,” said the Swiss 19-time Grand Slam winner, who next plays little-known Hungarian Marton Fucsovics for a place in the quarter-finals.
Djokovic was equally convincing in his 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 rout of Spanish 21st seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas, although there was concern when he sought a medical timeout for treatment to his lower back.
“It was straight sets, but I had to earn my points,” said the Serb, who is on his way back after six months out with right elbow trouble. “Obviously for me it’s taking it one match at a time, but I have to be more humble with my expectations as I haven’t played in the last six months.”
He next plays South Korea’s Chung Hyeon, who shocked fourth seed Alexander Zverev.
With the temperatures a manageable 26°C after two days of oven-like conditions, Zverev was beaten in five sets.
He has been hailed as the leader of the tennis new guard, but has failed to go beyond the fourth round in 11 Grand Slams, admitting he has “some figuring out to do.”
In a glamor evening tie, Sharapova was no match for Kerber, flopping 6-1, 6-3.
They pair are both 30, former world No. 1s and were the only two Australian Open winners left in the women’s draw.
“This court is special for me and I was trying to enjoy every point,” Kerber said of Rod Laver Arena, where she beat Serena Williams in the 2016 final.
For Sharapova, who is looking to rediscover her best on her way back from a 15-month drug ban, it is back to the drawing board.
“I think there are a lot of things that I need to get better at and improve on,” she said.
World No. 1 Simona Halep is lucky to be still in contention after surviving three match points in a titanic struggle against 76th-ranked Lauren Davis of the US.
She looked out for the count at one point, but finally got over the line 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 in a grueling 3 hour, 44 minute epic that took its toll.
“I’m almost dead,” the tenacious Romanian said after the incredible battle, in which Davis lost a toenail and Halep served for the match four times.
The former quarter-finalist is to play Naomi Osaka after the Japanese star beat Australia’s Ashleigh Barty.
Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova also had a tough test, beating fellow Czech Lucie Safarova 7-6 (8/6), 7-5.
In contrast, US Open finalist Madison Keys was in fine touch as she benefits from the guidance of former great Lindsay Davenport.
Flying under the radar, the 17th seed has surrendered just 16 games on her way to the fourth round after beating Romania’s Ana Bogdan 6-3, 6-4.
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