Technical Analysis: Su-Wei Hsieh - The Unique “Quadruple-Handed” Player - UBITENNIS
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Technical Analysis: Su-Wei Hsieh – The Unique “Quadruple-Handed” Player

UbiTennis looks at the game style of the oldest women in the Open Era to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the age of 35.

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image via https://twitter.com/WTA

Players hitting both their forehand and backhand holding the racquet with two hands have quite a history in tennis.

The queen of those that could be defined as “quadruple-handed players” is the great Monica Seles, a nine-time Slam champion, then we had Marion Bartoli, who won Wimbledon in 2012, and today we can find Luksika Kumkhum and Georgia Brescia among active WTA players. The current coach of Milos Raonic, Fabrice Santoro, was an example of these peculiar kinds of players in the ATP Tour. All of them have a common technique: on their “natural” backhand side, that is the left side for the right-handed, they hit a normal two-handed shot. On their forehand side, they just hit a double-handed shot with their hands inverted on the racquet’s handle, meaning that their dominant hand never moved from the handle’s base.

 

To swing their sticks this way, they had to wrap their forearms one above the other (see Monica Seles’s FH pic), and while this is  quite a complex move, the big advantage is that they don’t have to move their hands, never leaving the grip. Considering the speed and pace of modern tennis rallies, this is very important.

Su-Wei Hsieh, 35-years-old from Taipei, has been n.1 WTA in doubles, and in the last years has had a great run in singles too, reaching a best ranking of n.23, and beating big names like Muguruza, Kerber, Pliskova, Halep and Osaka among the others, and now Bianca Andreescu. She plays “quadruple-handed”, but with a unique feature: on both her right and left side, she just plays an absolutely standard two-handed backhand, and this is something almost never seen before in tennis, surely not at top professional levels. How does she change her grip on the racquet fast enough to compete and win against such heavy-hitting opponents as those she faces on tour? Let’s see a brief practice video of Hsieh from Indian Wells, and comment on it.

As you can see, Su-Wei uses a customized racquet, with a handle slightly longer than the standard, and places her dominant hand (she is right-handed) approximately in the middle of the handle. Then, she moves her left hand over or under the right one depending on which side she is swinging to hit. She also adjusts her right hand position and grip a little, moving it down on her left swing, and the result is a couple of almost perfect two-handed backhands, with the normal continental and eastern grip combination. What’s extraordinary about Hsieh is the speed and precision of her racquet handling, like a juggler of sorts, absolutely fascinating when you realize the difficulty of such a fine and instantaneous adjustment. Playing this way, Su-Wei is able to hide the direction of her shots till the last moment, often fooling her opponents, and she is an amazing counter-puncher, almost impossible to be put into trouble just by hard hitting. Something many top-level WTA players have learned at their expense.

Hsieh will play Naomi Osaka in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Tuesday. She is coached on the Tour by Paul McNamee who is a former top 30 player himself and Australian Open semifinalist in 1982. McNamee, junior champion at the AO 1983 has won 24 doubles titles, including 4 Slams. Together with Peter McNamara twice the doubles in Wimbledon, 1980 and 1982, with Mark Edmondson 1983 the Australian Open. He won also a mixed double with Martina Navratilova in 1985 at Wimbledon. Paul McNamee was also a member of the Australian team that won the Davis Cup in 1983 and 1986. In singles, he won 2 tournaments beating in the finals Stan Smith (Palm Harbor 1980) and Guillermo Vilas (Baltimore WCT 1982) in 5 sets. Played 5 finals, losing to players like Lendl, Cash, Emilio Sanchez. McNamee played a key role in the founding of the Hopman Cup international tennis tournament in 1988. He served as tournament director of the Hopman Cup and CEO of the Australian Open until 2006.

Story by Luca Baldissera (tennis journalist, analyst and coach)

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Why Newly Married Elina Svitolina Has No Plans To Change Her Surname

The Ukrainian explains why she isn’t using her husband’s surname of Monfils just yet as she books her place in the third round at Tokyo 2020.

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Just over a week ago Elina Svitolina tied the knot with her long-time partner Gael Monfils at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Shortly after the world No.6 took to social media and changed her name on Twitter to Elina Monfils as part of the tradition that the woman takes on the man’s name once they are married. As a consequence, various websites started to identify the Ukrainian under that name. Although she would rather that they don’t do such a thing.

“I don’t know why they changed my surname. Maybe they saw that I had changed it on my social networks,” Svitolina told BTU.
“I’m going to play as Svitolina till the very end of my professional career and will change it only after retirement.”

Svitolina explains she believes it is better if all of her achievements are made under the same name instead of two. So far in her career she has won 15 WTA titles, reached two Grand Slam semi-finals and has earned more than $20.5M in prize money.

I had numerous achievements and people know me as Svitolina. My father would be upset if I changed the surname and played as Monfils,” she joked.
“I am proud to be Svitolina and my tennis career will always be connected with this surname.”

Over the coming week the 26-year-old is hoping to add an Olympic medal to her resume. On Monday Svitolina survived a stern scare after coming back from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanović 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and move into the third round of the tournament. Her win came on the day where there were shocks galore in the women’s draw with seeds Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova all crashing out.

Svitolina will play Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the next round whom she has lost to in two out of their three previous meetings.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz becomes the youngest ever champion at ATP Tour level since Kei Nishikori in 2008

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Carlos Alcaraz beat Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-2 in the final of the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag becoming the youngest ever champion at ATP Tour level since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori in Delray Beach in 2008 and the youngest Spanish ATP Tour champion since RafaelNadal in Sopot 2004. 

 

Alcaraz earned his first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead with an inside-in forehand winner and he never looked back by holding his next service games. The Spanish teenager broke serve in the third game as Gasquet made a double fault. Alcaraz converted his third break point in the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Gasquet earned three break points but he was not able to convert them. 

“I had a lot of good moments in this tournament. I beat five great tennis players. I think that I grew up a lot in this tournament and  I keep a lot of experience from this tournament. It’s going to be useful for the future”, said Alcaraz. 

Gasquet was aiming to win his first ATP Tour title since s’Hertogenbosch in 2018. 

“It was tough for me to play with his full intensity. I had a tough match yesterday. It was tough, and especially with a guy like Carlos, who is playing really fast with a lot of energy and spin. He is playing unbeievable. He is only 18 and of course he had a great future and Ijust could not play at his level and his intensity”, said Gasquet. 

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