Su-Wei Hsieh secured the biggest singles win of her career as she defeated a top 10 player for the first time in the form of Johanna Konta 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 in the first round at the French Open.
Ranked at 109 in the world, the Chinese Taipei player was on a five match losing streak and the signs looked ominous after losing the first set 6-1, but Hsieh dug deep and staved off five break points in the second set before taking it on a tiebreak. After trading breaks in the final set she held her nerve, staving off four break back points in the final game before ousting the seventh seed.
Hsieh advances to face Taylor Townsend in the second round after the American defeated Miyu Kato in straight sets 6-4, 6-0. There were also opening round victories for fifth seed Elina Svitolina, 21st seed Carla Suarez Navarro, Tsvetana Pironkova and Sorana Cirstea.
* Article originally published by me for UBITennis.net *
Konta was making her third main draw appearance at Roland Garros and despite being ranked at eight in the world had never won a match here. Having gained some confidence from getting a couple of match wins on clay under her belt in Rome, Konta looked very sharp and got off to the perfect start on court Philippe Chatrier. The Brit out-powered her opponent early on, forcing Hsieh into some early errors to hand the break to the seventh seed as she quickly moved 3-0 in front.
Having only won two of the previous 15 points, Hsieh was able to settle her early match nerves somewhat and hold to get her first game on the board. Hsieh gained some confidence and applied pressure on the Brit’s serve at 15-30, but the seventh seed did not buckle and held to keep in front.
After securing a double break, Konta had no trouble closing out a flawless first set having made 70% of her first serves in, winning 93% of those points. The Brit sealed it with an ace to take it 6-1 after 26 minutes.
The signs looked ominous for the player from Chinese Taipei after she squandered two game points in the third game of the second set and found herself break point down. An unorthodox, but very effective drop shot off the backhand side with both hands on the racket was enough to catch Konta off guard and Hsieh was able to recover to hold and stay in front.
Konta kept pushing to try and make the breakthrough and had another chance in the seventh game, but narrowly missed an attempted cross court backhand winner wide on break point before Hsieh moved 4-3 in front.
The seventh seed faced pressure on her own serve in the following game as Hsieh earned her first break points of the match. Konta saved the first with some fierce groundstrokes before becoming rather fortunate after her opponent missed a relatively easy smash put-away to squander the second break point. The Brit remained mentally strong in the important moments and saved a third break point with a backhand down the line winner and then snuffed out a fourth chance before coming through the toughest game of the match to level at 4-4.
Konta looked to have finally gotten the better of her opponent with her relentless pressure on the groundstrokes as she earned three break points at 0-40, but Hsieh raised her game and did exceptionally well to reel off five points in a row to move 6-5 in front. The next game also proved to be a battle as the Brit suddenly faced a set point. The seventh seed did well to stay calm and strike a forehand winner to stay in the set and then had to face the disappointment of squandering two chances to hold before finally coming through to force a second set tiebreak.
In the tiebreak Konta gained an immediate point against the serve after Hsieh put an attempted lob beyond the baseline, but after a few errors the Brit found herself 4-2 behind at the change of ends. Things got no better for the seventh seed at the other end of the court as Hsieh’s level continued to climb, taking three more points to seal the tiebreak 7-2 and with it level the match at one set all.
Both players held their opening couple of service games before three breaks in a row left Hsieh leading 5-3. Konta held serve to love to force the world number 109 to serve for the match and it looked to be a too tougher task for the player from Chinese Taipei after she faced four break points. Having squandered the first three chances the Brit came agonisingly close to taking the fourth but her attempted drop shot clipped the top of the tape and landed back on her side of the net. The seventh seed desperately tried to stay in the contest and saved a match point, but Hsieh was not to be denied for a second time as she sealed the biggest win of her career 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.