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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Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic win their sixth title this season in Rome

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Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic claimed their sixth title and their third ATP Masters 1000 of the season after a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over Jo Salisbury and Rajeev Ram. 

 

Mektic and Pavic have lifted their titles at the Antalya Open, Murray River Open in Melbourne, ABN AMRO World Tennis Championships in Rotterdam, the Miami Open and the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. They also finished runner-up at the Madrid Mutua Open. 

Mektic and Pavic were not able to convert a break point in the first game, but they broke serve in the fifth game after three consecutive return winners. 

The Croatian team served out for the first set in the 10th game. The second set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Mektic and Pavic raced out to a 6-0 lead, but Salisbury and Ram won four consecutive points to claw their way back to 4-6.  Mektic and Pavic won the tie-break on the fourth match point. “It feels great and and we are very happy with the way we played the whole tournament. We did not drop a set, so it showed how well we played throughout the week. It was a tough match. There were only a couple of chances in the first set before it became tighter in the second set from 6-0 to 6-4 in the tie-break. I hope we can keep going. The goal is to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. I was hoping we’d have good results, but it has surprised me a little bit as we had not played together before this year”, said Pavic.

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Andy Murray Skips French Open To Focus On The Grass

The decision has been made after the Brit experienced some ‘discomfort’ during his time in Rome.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has delayed his return to competitive tennis after deciding to not play any more tournaments on the clay this year.

 

The former world No.1 has confirmed that he will not be playing at the French Open, according to multiple British media sources. Murray’s decision comes less than a week after he was in Rome training with some of the Tour’s top players. During one of his practice sessions in the Italian capital, he had a hit with world No.1 Novak Djokovic who said afterwards he was impressed by the current form of the Brit.

“I was very happy to see him. I haven’t seen him in a while, and it was great to hit with him. I thought he played very well on the court,” Djokovic told reporters last week.
“He moves well considering it’s clay which is not the best surface for his hips. But considering what he has been through lately, I think it seems like he’s been feeling well on the court. That’s what he’s saying, and that’s what it appears on the court itself.”

It is understood that Murray experienced some discomfort in Rome where he participated in the doubles tournament with Liam Broady after receiving a last-minute entry. It is unclear as to where the pain is located and how serious it is. Although it has been deemed significant enough for him to decline a wildcard into next week’s Geneva Open and pass on the French Open where he would have possibly had to play in the qualifying draw.

Murray will now switch his focus to the grass ahead of Wimbledon. He is currently scheduled to next play at The Queen’s Club where he has a contract to play there for the rest of his career. The tournament will start on June 14th with Murray saying he is looking forward to playing in front of a British crowd again. Under current restrictions, Queen’s will welcome 25% of its 9000-spectator capacity.

“It’s been such a difficult time for everyone and it will be great to play in front of home fans in Britain again,” said five-time champion Murray. “The tournament at Queen’s has always meant a lot to me – it’s where I won my first ATP match, I’ve won the singles at Queen’s more than any other in my career, and I’ll never forget our doubles title in 2019. I can’t wait to get back out there.”

34-year-old Murray has played just 11 Tour matches since winning the European Open in Antwerp back in 2019. He is currently ranked 123rd in the world.

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Novak Djokovic battles past Lorenzo Sonego in epic Rome semifinal

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Novak Djokovic claimed a 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 win over Lorenzo Sonego in an epic semifinal to reach his career 10th final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Djokovic went up a set and a break and held match points in the second set, but Sonego won the tie-break to send the match to the third set. Djokovic avenged his defeat against Sonego, who won their only previous head-to-head match in the Vienna semifinal. 

Djokovic set up a 56th clash against Rafael Nadal in a blockbuster final on Sunday.

Earlier today Djokovic came back from a set and a break down to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 4-6 7-5 7-5 in the quarter final match, which was interrupted by rain on Friday. 

Djokovic won nine points more than Sonego in the first set. The Serbian player hit a service winner to hold serve at love. Sonego held his serve with a drop-shot winner in the second game before Djokovic held his serve in the third game with a forehand winner. 

Djokovic hit a deep return in the fourth game and earned a break after a forehand error from Sonego. The world number 1 player held serve with a drop-shot to consolidate the break in the fifth game. Sonego held serve in the sixth game at love. 

Djokovic did not face any break point in his next service games and held serve at 15 to seal the first set 6-3 with a forehand down the line winner after 34 minutes. 

Djokovic created eight break points in the 91-minute second set, but the first first ten games went on serve. 

Sonego faced a break point from 40-15 in the third game of the second set and fended it off with a service winner. The Italian 26-year-old player fired another service winner to hold serve for 2-1. 

Djokovic held serve at 15 in the fourth game and earned three break points at 3-3. Sonego saved the first two break points with smash winners and the third chance with a drop-shot. Djokovic hit an ace down the line to hold serve at love in the eighth game. Sonego saved two break points with his forehands to hold after three deuces for 5-4 in 10-minute marathon game. 

Djokovic fended off two set points in the 10th game and held with a service winner to draw level to 5-5 in another 10-minute game. The Serbian star broke serve in the 11th game with two winners at the net earning his chance to serve for the win. 

Sonego saved two match points in the 12th game when Djokovic served for the final at 6-5. and converted his second break point with a service winner to force the second set to the tie-break. 

Djokovic hit a forehand down the line winner to build up a 4-2 lead in the breaker before hitting a double fault. Sonego hit a backhand down the line winner to take a 5-4 lead. Sonego converted his fourth set point with a service winner to win a hard-fought tie-break 7-5 sending the match to the third set. 

Sonego raced to a 0-40 lead in Djokovic’s first service game and earned three break points in the first game of the third set, but he wasted them. Djokovic got the break at 15 in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead and consolidated it with a hold at 15 for 4-1. 

Djokovic created his second match point with a forehand winner at 5-2 and converted it to seal the win after Sonego sent a forehand into the net. 

“I have only myself to blame for not closing the match in two sets. At the end of the day, he is showing why he reached his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinals. He is a quality players. He is a quality player. It is not easy to play against him. Obviously he had the crowd behind him. It was an electric atmosphere out on there on the court”, said Djokovic. 

Djokovic will meet Nadal for the ninth time in Rome. Nadal and Djokovic have wn 14 of the past 16 editions of the Rome tournament. Nadal leads 5-3 in his previous Rome clashes against Djokovic. 

“I don’t have much time to recover. I played a lot of tennis. Hopefully I will have fresh legs because that’s what I definitely will need. It’s necessary in order to have a chance against Rafa. He also had some tough matches, obviously myself, with rain delays and everything that has happened today. Hopefully I will be fresh and I will give it all”, said Djokovic. 

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