Hsieh Edges Robson, Conquers Guangzhou
Published September 22, 2012 12:00
GUANGZHOU, China - In one of the most dramatic finals of the year, Hsieh Su-Wei had the match, let it go, let it go a little bit more and then came roaring back to win the GRC Bank Guangzhou International Women's Open.
Neither of the two finalists at the International-level event were seeded, but they had both definitely proven themselves against those who were: Hsieh beat No.4 seed Urszula Radwanska en route to the final, while Laura Robson took out three - No.2 seed Zheng Jie, No.7 seed Peng Shuai and No.3 seed Sorana Cirstea. And both brought their very best to Saturday's title match.
Hsieh controlled the overall flow of the first half of the match, using her very unorthodox style - two hands off both sides, mixing spins and slices, offense and defense - to outfox Robson and build a 63 53 lead. And she even had five match points in that game, but Robson stayed calm and fought them all off.
Robson would end up reeling off seven games in a row to go from 63 53 down to 3-0 up in the third set; but Hsieh regrouped, winning five games in a row (and six of the next seven) en route to a dramatic 63 57 64 championship victory.
"Laura's a great player and has been improving a lot this year, but I don't think she felt comfortable with my game," Hsieh said. "Some people say I don't often hit the ball with a lot of power, that I used the opponent's power against them and put the ball in unexpected places. I don't have big muscles so I have to work hard and do that and try to make my opponent run as much as possible."
Hsieh came away with the second WTA title of her career, her first coming at Kuala Lumpur earlier this year - and that was another dramatic final, as she had to fight back from 62 42 down against Petra Martic and won when the Croat unfortunately retired down 4-1 in the third set due to heat exhaustion.
Hsieh is one of only two players from Chinese Taipei ever to win a WTA title, after Wang Shi-Ting, who won six WTA titles during the mid-1990s. She is now projected to make her career Top 50 debut, around the No.39-No.40 range (she was all the way down at No.215 in the world at this time last year).
"I'm very happy to play so well in singles this season," Hsieh said. "But even though I've done well in singles, I'm going to keep playing doubles too, even more actually - my sister, who is 19 years old, is young and needs my help, so I'm bringing her to WTA tournaments with me. She's improving fast."
Robson proved once again it's tough to close her out by saving those five match points - three of them with winners - and pushing the match close to the three hour mark before finally succumbing. Her last loss on the WTA ended in a similar way - in her fourth round match at the US Open, she fended off eight match points before Sam Stosur eventually converted on the ninth.
"She's a really good player," Robson said of Hsieh. "She's very difficult to play. She changes everything so much - sometimes I couldn't tell what she was going to do with the ball. It's very difficult to get any rhythm against her.
"After I won the second set and led 3-0 in the third, she started playing well again and made the rallies longer, while I totally ran out of energy. I kept fighting but just wasn't able to hit my shots as well as I had earlier in the match.
"But the more matches you play the more experience you get, and to play in a really tough final like this one in Guangzhou is a big experience for me."
Robson was also the first Brit to reach a WTA final in 22 years, since Jo Durie did so at Newport in 1990 (losing to Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario). No Brit has won a WTA title in 24 years, since Sara Gomer triumphed at Aptos in 1988.
The doubles final saw No.3 seeds Tamarine Tanasugarn and Zhang Shuai beat No.1 seeds Jarmila Gajdosova and Monica Niculescu, 26 62 108. Tanasugarn won her eighth WTA doubles title, while Zhang won her third.