KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Hsieh Su-Wei became the second player from Chinese Taipei ever to win a WTA title on Sunday, completing a dream week at the BMW Malaysian Open with a win over an exhausted Petra Martic.
Hsieh had endured quite the tiring week herself, not just having to battle her way through the qualifying rounds and making it all the way to her first WTA final, but overcoming some night-time struggles upon landing in Kuala Lumpur. "I couldn't sleep upon arriving and had to play the very next day!" she explained.
But the 26-year-old Taiwanese kept her two-fisted groundstrokes coming in full force throughout the week and pulled off an impressive escape against Petra Martic in Sunday's final. Martic, the No.5 seed, had not only gone to three sets in all four of her matches leading into the final, but her semifinal with No.2 seed Jelena Jankovic was rained out Saturday and had to be played Sunday. Martic battled over three hours and saved match point to win, 67(5) 75 76(5).
Martic managed to keep the big serves and groundstrokes coming for a while in the final, building a 62 42 lead, but eventually it all caught up to her. Hsieh rallied back to take the second set and build a 4-1 lead in the third set when Martic stopped due to heat exhaustion. Hsieh won, 26 75 41 retired.
"In a way I was lucky but I'll cherish this for as long as I can remember," Hsieh said after the final. "I never expected to win this title. It wasn't easy for me but I tried so hard to win. It has been a good week for Chinese Taipei here."
The only previous WTA champion from Chinese Taipei was Wang Shi-Ting, who captured six WTA titles in the mid-1990s (Hong Kong and Taipei in 1993, Taipei in 1994, Surabaya in 1995 and Surabaya and Beijing in 1996).
Hsieh, who has had almost all of her previous success in doubles - she has won eight WTA doubles titles and been as high as No.9 in those rankings - will now take a break from singles as she competes only in the team discipline at Indian Wells. "It's best I don't push myself," she said. "I'm playing for my country at the London Olympics and I want to stay fit for that. I don't want to get injured."
Martic was also playing her first WTA final, her best previous results being two semifinals last year. She beat two Top 20 players en route to the title match, No.19 Peng Shuai and No.14 Jankovic, bringing her career tally to three Top 20 wins (she had a win over then-No.15 Yanina Wickmayer back in 2010).
Chang and Chuang completed the Taiwanese sweep earlier in the day, coming back from a break down in both sets to beat No.3 seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Rika Fujiwara, 75 64. Chang now has two WTA doubles titles, Chuang 18.
"It's a great feeling to win here and I have to thank my partner," Chang said. "Our opponents deserve credit too as they played their second match of the day and it wasn't easy. We did try to make full use of the fact they had played earlier but it didn't really make a difference. They started off having a good strategy but we remained focused - we watched them play the Pliskova sisters and had a plan too. We moved well and stayed calm throughout.
"I wish we could partner each other more often but probably the next time we play together will be the clay season in the middle of the year."