Getting To Know... Chuang & Hsieh
Published January 22, 2011 01:06
Chinese Taipei doubles duo Chuang Chia-Jung and Hsieh Su-Wei are key figures in Asia's growing tennis success story. Chuang, who turned 26 earlier in the month, has 12 WTA doubles titles to her name, and in 2007 was runner-up at both the Australian and US Opens with Chan Yung-Jan. Hsieh, who just turned 25, boasts seven WTA titles (including three with 'CJ'). Although unseeded this fortnight in Melbourne, both have been ranked in the Top 10 in doubles and they are through to the third round after beating No.13 seeds Vera Zvonareva and Elena Vesnina in round two.
We caught up with CJ and Su-Wei during the Medibank International Sydney.
How did you both get into tennis?
HSW: I was five years old. My father found the tennis court first and he thought, what is this? The next day he took me to join up.
CCJ: I was around six or seven. Nobody in family played. My younger brother played basketball.
Who's traveling with you on this trip to Australia?
HSW: My brother, Hsieh Cheng-Yin, is with me. He's also my coach. Actually I have four brothers and two sisters...
CCJ: My father, Chuang Wen-Teng is here along with my younger brother, Chuang Yueh-Ying, who is 15.
You're both from Kaohsiung… when did you first meet?
CCJ: I was in fourth grade, nine-years-old, so Su-Wei must have been eight at the time.
You've both played with various partners, and have won tournaments together and apart. Do you plan to form a regular combination for the time being?
CCJ: We will see (laughs).
Are you still playing singles?
CCJ: Not any more. In 2007 I decided to concentrate on doubles.
HSW: I'm still trying in singles although my ranking is very low, in the 300s. For me it's interesting to play singles and doubles and mixed. They are all different and for me that's fun on the court.
What are your strengths as players?
HSW: I never know which side's going to be better on a given day and that keeps people guessing! They may think it's my forehand but maybe it will be worse than my backhand. I can do both, but I don't know when it's coming!
CCJ: For me, serve and volley.
Why do you think you make a good team?
CCJ: Because we've known each other a long time already. We've played together since we were young, in the juniors.
Do you ever get on each other's nerves?
HSW: I don't think so, not really. CJ is very kind to her friends. We understand each other, and if we are not feeling good we just say. If we aren't doing well on the court, we never go, 'Oh, you are bad.' I've heard players say awful things to their partner and I was, like, ooh…We just say, 'It's OK, we'll do better next match.' This is why we play together. I feel comfortable with her.
CJ, what do you like about Su-Wei?
CCJ: She's a very special girl. Very friendly to everyone.
Who do you think is the best doubles team at the moment, or the toughest for you to play?
HSW: All the teams are great, and we will try to beat them. Of course the Top 10 doubles players are very good. And also when the top singles players play doubles we feel the pressure and aggression. It's different tennis, and we learn a lot from them. It's very good for us to play these girls, whether they are singles Top 10 or doubles Top 10.
What's your favorite surface?
HSW: I love all the courts, I can play all the courts.
Did you have tennis idols when you were growing up?
HSW: Not really, although I liked Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi. Actually I like all the players, everyone has a different style and it's interesting to watch everyone, whether men or women.
CCJ: I also like watching a lot of different players. Right now I like Kim Clijsters and Roger Federer.
The Australian Open is called the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific. Do feel like it's your home Slam?
HSW: If the tournament can do it, they will help the Asian players with wildcards as a priority. This makes us feel really comfortable and at home here. And players from Taiwan have had good results at the Australian Open, whether doubles, singles, juniors. So we really love to play here, we enjoy it.
What did you get up to in the off-season?
CCJ: I travelled around with my friends within Taiwan, visiting different cities. I like to go to Japan and Korea for holidays but didn't make it this time. And I stayed home for my training.
HSW: I went and watched some tennis with my friends, not pros, amateurs. I played with them as well, had dinner with them and enjoyed spending time with them. And also I played my online games all the time!
CCJ: Even now, she's still crazy about it.
HSW: It's not a secret anymore... I have one favorite game I've played already many years. It's kind of a fighting game… I get you with a sword: Aaaaah!!! There are players from Malaysia, Hong Kong and China. So we interact, and sometimes we speak English or otherwise Chinese. I pretend to be other people… I say I'm a businessman, or a student, or a flight attendant. I say I work in a hospital and need to travel to Africa. I always change my identity. I don't think they'd believe me if I said I was a tennis player!
CJ, what do you like to do in your free time to relax?
CCJ: I've started to learn the piano again. I learned when I was young, about six, before I started tennis. So in the off-season I picked it up again.
When you are traveling around the world, what do you miss about home?
CCJ: Family, friends and food.
HSW: For me the same. And my own messy house. Maybe in a couple of years I'll find a boyfriend who likes to clean the house and cook.
What are your goals for this year?
CCJ: Win a Grand Slam title.
HSW: Whooarrr…. Of course, everyone tries to win a Grand Slam, and I try to do that in doubles but I also want to work hard in singles. I'm only 25 years old so I think I still have time to try a little bit more in this period of my career. Look at Kimiko Date-Krumm… you might be seeing me for 15 more years!
What's the best thing about being a tennis player?
HSW: It's a great job, we are always traveling and meeting a lot of people. We make new friends at every tournament, with the tournament staff, even the tournament director, the referee. I think I'm lucky that my father brought me to this work. You have to be strong, and have a strong team behind you, so even if you are traveling alone you know they are there to support you. I'm so happy to be here.
CCJ: Can I agree with what she said?