MIAMI, FL, USA -- Ever-dangerous Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei added another stunning upset of a top player to her growing collection, ousting World No.1 Naomi Osaka of Japan, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, in the third round of the Miami Open on Saturday.
Hsieh, in her post-match press conference, said the key to her win was to "just never give up. I fight until the last point. I do really well."
No.27 seed Hsieh had lost both of her previous matches against Osaka, but Hsieh troubled her in each of those meetings, most notably at the Australian Open this year, where Osaka had to survive a three-set tussle to advance past Hsieh en route to her second Grand Slam title.
This time, it was Hsieh who took the win in two hours and 18 minutes, coming back from a break down in each of the last two sets, and saving eight of the 12 break points she faced. Osaka had been 6-0 in three-set matches this season, and had won 63 straight matches after winning the first set before her loss against Hsieh.
"It was very tough because last time I give [Osaka a] lot of double-faults," Hsieh stated. "This time, I'm thinking, 'Okay, I try to put more balls in,' and I do good."
"Last time, I think she tried to change the rhythm on the match," Hsieh added. "This time I tried to focus on myself more. I know I [was] leading a lot last time and I lose the match. I was thinking, no matter what happens, I focus [on] what I need to do, then I try. I did it. It's very good what I do."
Until 2018, Hsieh had no victories over Top 5 players to her name, but in the last 14 months, Hsieh has notched four wins over that cohort. This is her second victory over a reigning World No.1, having also ousted then-top-ranked player Simona Halep in the third round of Wimbledon last year.
In the fourth round, Hsieh will play former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, the No.13 seed, who defeated Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu, also on Saturday. Wozniacki has won all four of her previous meetings with Hsieh.
"I'm glad I did marathon match[es] today, singles and doubles," said Hsieh. "I think my fitness is improved. Hope I can hang in there, to have my stronger little muscles to fight."
Early in the match, Hsieh’s ability to take the ball early, with double-handed shots from both wings, flummoxed Osaka, as the top-ranked player in the world sprayed errors to drop serve at love in her initial service game, falling behind 2-0. Hsieh then staved off four break points in the following game to hold for 3-0, and Osaka found herself in a concerning deficit.
The Japanese star reclaimed her serving prowess, though, and stayed within touching distance. She was rewarded when Hsieh netted a number of shots at 4-2 to drop her delivery and allow Osaka back on serve. The aggressive, well-placed shots which led Osaka to the last two Grand Slam titles were back in force, blasting a backhand winner down the line to level at 4-4.
Osaka then used superlative service returns to power through a close game, using one of those strikes to queue up an overhead winner and break for a 5-4 lead on her third break point of that game. Serving for the set in the subsequent game, Osaka slammed an ace to reach triple set point, which she converted to clinch the opening frame.
— WTA (@WTA) March 23, 2019
Osaka kept the momentum rolling early in the second set, breaking Hsieh with a backhand crosscourt winner on her third break point of the opening game. Osaka then held her first three service games of the set at love to maintain that advantage with ease up to 4-3.
The first sign of trouble for Osaka came in that game, where she had to save a break point with an ace before holding for 5-3. After Hsieh held for 5-4, Osaka served for the match, initially leading 30-0. But two double faults over the next three points brought Hsieh to break point, which was converted after an Osaka backhand error, and it was suddenly 5-5.
The players moved into the tiebreak where they were evenly matched through 4-4. But after Hsieh reached 5-4 with a strong serve, the player from Chinese Taipei claimed a mini-break by using amazing angles to win a scintillating rally. On double set point, Hsieh used tremendous defense to set up a passing winner and eke out a stunning second set.
— WTA (@WTA) March 23, 2019
Osaka started the decider up a break as well, after Hsieh dropped serve at 1-0 with a flurry of unforced errors, culminating with a double fault on break point. But the No.27 seed struck back immediately with a backhand service return winner, pulling back on serve at 2-1.
Hsieh then claimed a pivotal game at 3-3, as Osaka’s second serve remained ineffective and the top seed’s errors mounted, which led to the service break. The miscues from Osaka continued in the next game as Hsieh had no trouble holding for a 5-3 lead, putting her a game away from the upset victory.
The player from Chinese Taipei grasped her opportunity, like her racquet, with both hands. Hsieh ran Osaka all around the court in the final game, reaching match point via a storm of angles and passes. One final dropshot winner sealed the comeback win for Hsieh, as she added another Top 5 win to her resume.