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Getting To Know... Hsieh Su-Wei

More than a decade after her initial WTA breakthrough, Hsieh Su-Wei is on the comback trail with the help of a new coach.

Published February 13, 2012 01:19

Getting To Know... Hsieh Su-Wei
Hsieh Su-Wei

PATTAYA CITY, Thailand - In 2001, Hsieh Su-Wei announced herself to the WTA with a phenomenal debut season, highlighted by semifinal and quarterfinal runs in Bali and Pattaya City. Last week, Hsieh, still just 26 years old, returned to Pattaya where she came through qualifying before ending an 11-year wait to reach a second semifinal. After her quarterfinal win over Sania Mirza, we caught up with Hsieh to talk comebacks, new coaches and the Olympic dream.

Congratulations on reaching the semifinals, what's been the secret behind your success in Thailand?
I've been working very hard for the last two weeks. I've trained every day since the Australian Open finished and worked at all parts of my game. Both technical and mental. My coach said after all my hard work I deserve to have some wins!

You've done very well in Pattaya and other Asian tournaments in the past. Do you think the hotter conditions help your game?
It's interesting that I've done well here, as I was playing Fed Cup recently on a totally different surface. But for me the weather was good and playing some matches in qualifiers helped. I actually don't mind where in the world I play, though. I enjoy all tournaments and all cities. It's one of the fun things of being a tennis player, as you get to see all these different tournaments and places and people. I like it a lot.

What are your goals for the coming season?
I hope that my ranking will be high enough to make the qualifiers for Miami. Then after that my aim is to make it back into the Top 100. Then the Top 50, and just keep on improving. I need to improve mentally and physically and work on my concentration.

As 2012 is an Olympic year, are you excited about the possibility of representing your country in London?
I enjoy playing for my country, whether it's Fed Cup, Asian games or something else. But unfortunately I didn't get to play in the last Olympics as my ranking wasn't high enough, but this year I hope my ranking will be high enough to take part in the singles and doubles.

Going back to the beginning, how did you get started in tennis?
I started when I was just five, so that's more than 20 years. My dad was always very focused on me being a tennis player and for a long time organized everything for me, managed my schedule, booked the court… everything.

After a difficult few years, your ranking is back on the rise. Have you made any changes to your game or approach to tennis?
Up until a few years ago I wasn't playing singles and just focused on doubles for a while. I had a few problems off the court and my ranking fell. But now practice is going well, I have a new coach from Australia, Paul McNamee, and things are going well. I'm positive about the future.

How did you start working with Paul?
We started at Wimbledon and for the US Open and he was helping me for doubles. Paul was helping an Australian girl at Wimbledon and she said maybe he could help me, and I didn't know who was this guy but said I'll give it a try. I reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in mixed doubles and I think we work pretty well together. I understand what he is talking about. As he cannot travel with me much, he tells me what to do by text!

You've had success in both singles and doubles, which do you prefer?
I like all types of tennis. Singles, doubles, mixed doubles. They are all different but fun in their own way and all very interesting. Most of all I just like to have fun on court, so sometimes it's fun to be out there with someone else, but other times it is challenging to be on your own. I've had some great doubles results and really enjoyed playing with some of my best friends, like Peng Shuai and Chuang Chia-Jung.

Talking of your friends in tennis, who do you hang out with at tournaments and who are the jokers off the court?
I spend time with lots of the girls… Tamarine [Tanasugarn], the Taiwan girls, Thailand girls. Li Na is probably the most funny, but also Peng Shuai too. They both make me laugh.

What is your favorite tournament of the year?
I like all the tournaments. We are lucky as tennis players to go to so many great places. Maybe Roland Garros is my favorite. The court is nice and there is a lot to do in the city: good food, site seeing and shopping!

Away for the court, what do you like doing to relax?
Everything! Other sports, music, writing, books, posting things on Facebook, eating, shopping, taking pictures.

Pictures? Any particular subject matter?
Again, everything! People, nature, scenery. If I see something I like, then I will take a photo.

If you could change anything about tennis, what would it be?
I want tennis to be more fun! I want to play with a smile and I want the people who watch me in the crowd to enjoy it too.

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