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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Another Defeat For Iga Swiatek – Should Her Fans Start To Worry?

Iga Swiatek unexpectedly lost to Beatrice Haddad Maia in the quarter-finals of the National Bank Open in Toronto. This was the third defeat of the WTA world No.1 in a month and a half. Is there anything to worry about?

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Iga Swiatek - Roland Garros 2022 (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Article written by Dominik Senkowski (@dsenkowski07)

 

It was an extremely close match played in difficult conditions. Swiatek lost to Beatrice Hadad Maia 4:6, 6:3, 5:7 in Toronto.

The Polish woman admitted that she could not deal with the strong wind, saying during her press conference “I think without the wind I would manage. But it was pretty crazy out there.”

Haddad Miai, who is the first Brazilian to reach the last eight of a WTA 1000 event, revealed that she also had problems with the weather.

”We have no influence on the weather, we have to deal with it somehow. I think mentally I managed to overcome it,” she said.

Three failures

This was the third defeat for Swiatek in a month and a half. She had been undefeated since February, winning six tournaments in a row, including a Roland Garros. After that, however, she did not reach the semi-finals even once. In Wimbledon she was eliminated in the third round by Alize Cornet and then in Warsaw in the quarter-finals by Caroline Garcia. Now she did not make it past Beatrice Hadad Maia in Toronto. Do fans of the Polish woman have anything to worry about?

Of course, Swiatek as the top seed should have played better against the Brazilian. However, it must be remembered that she is still only 21 years old and has the right to fluctuate in form. Even the best tennis players of recent years – Roger Federer, Serena Serena, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic – did not win all the games in their best time. Swiatek still has a phenomenal balance of 49 wins to 5 defeats this year. She is the undisputed leader of the WTA rankings and will probably end the year as number one in the world.

There is no doubt that the rivals are more motivated to clash with Iga. In addition, they increasingly believe that they are able to defeat her since Cornet, Garcia and Hadad Maia did it. But still, it all depends on Iga. If she improves her serve, she can be unstoppable again. Recently with Garcia and Hadad Maia, she had problems with the second serve. She must pay more attention to it.

Time for Iga

Time should play in favour of Swiatek. Before Toronto, she played exceptionally on clay courts in Warsaw in a tournament organized by her father Tomasz. Frequent changes of the surface from grass to clay and hard courts in 1.5 months are not easy at such a young age. In Poland Iga said that she had no experience with it, she was just learning. She continues to learn valuable lessons and still can be better. We should remember it.

It seems that in the coming days she will be training on hard courts. She could feel more confident and come stronger as in spring. In Warsaw Iga said that she treats the first tournament before the US Open swing less seriously. She was aware that she needed more playing time to get better results. Her increasing self-esteem makes her behave calmer, even after defeats. That is why she can return to the right path soon.

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Rafael Nadal Returns To Cincinnati With Shot At No.1 Ranking

This is what the king of clay has to do to reclaim the top position.

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ATP RAFAEL NADAL OF SPAIN - PHOTO: DIEGO SOUTO / MMO

It has been over a month since Rafael Nadal last played a match on the Tour but in the coming days, he will have a chance to return to the top of the ATP rankings.

 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion has been absent from action ever since pulling out of his semi-final match at Wimbledon due to an abdominal tear. He was set to play at this week’s National Bank Open in Montreal but withdrew after feeling a ‘slight bother’ in his abdominal region following training. Nadal decided not to play after consulting with his doctor.

Instead, the Spaniard will return next week at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. He confirmed his return in an Instagram post, where he wrote: “Very happy to play again in Cincy. Flying there tomorrow (Thursday).”

Whilst the Spaniard will be finding his feet in the coming days, in Cincinnati he has a chance to dethrone Daniil Medvedev from the world No.1 position. Medvedev lost his opening match in Montreal to Nick Kyrgios. To do this he would need to win the Masters 1000 event for the second time in his career and hope that Medvedev doesn’t make the quarter-finals. Nadal won Cincinnati back in 2013 after defeating John Isner in the final.

So far in his career, Nadal has spent 209 weeks as world No.1 with his longest streak being 56 weeks in a row (2010-2011). In total, he has been at the top of the rankings for eight separate periods and last held the position in February 2020.

Nadal’s No.1 stints
-Aug 18 2008 – Jul 5th 2009 (46 weeks)
-Jun 7 2010 – Jul 3rd 2011 (56 weeks)
-Oct 7th 2013 – Jul 6th 2014 (39 weeks)
-Aug 21 2017 – Feb 18 2018 (26 weeks)
-Apr 2nd 2018 – May 13th 2018 (6 weeks)
-May 21st 2018 – Jun 17th 2018 (4 weeks)
-Jun 25th 2018 – Nov 4th 2018 (19 weeks)
-Nov 4th 2019 – Feb 2nd 2020 (13 weeks)

At present nine out of the world’s top 10 players will participate in the Western and Southern Open. The only exception is Novak Djokovic who is currently banned from entering America because he isn’t vaccinated against Covid-19.

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Jack Draper Considered Skipping Montreal Masters Before Getting Biggest Win Of Career

The rising star completes a trio of British players who have booked their places in the third round of the Masters 1000 event.

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Image via https://twitter.com/OBNmontreal/

British qualifier Jack Draper says his decision to play in Montreal this week has paid off after he scored his first-ever win over a top 10 player on Wednesday.

 

The 20-year-old stunned world No.5 and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 7-6(4), in what is only his fourth appearance in the main draw of a Masters 1000 event. Draper, who is currently ranked 82nd in the world, won 74% of his first service points and blasted 21 winners past his Greek rival. Recovering from a 1-3 deficit in the second set en route to a straight sets victory.

Leading up to this week, Draper and his team considered not playing in Montreal following his 6-4, 6-2, loss to Andrey Rublev in Washington. However, their decision to do so was the right one. After coming through two rounds of qualifying, he beat France’s Hugo Gaston in the first round before knocking out Tsitsipas.

“This is why I put in all the hard work, for nights like this on stages like this,” Draper said in an on-court interview. “Last week [after] Washington, me and my coach probably were thinking we weren’t even going to come here. We were going to maybe train a week, get a bit of confidence. But it paid off coming.”
“I didn’t really have much of a game plan. I just thought I needed to play good tennis to beat Stefanos. He’s at the top of the game for a reason. [He’s] someone I’ve looked up to the last few years. It’s just good to be out here and try to express myself on this stage.” He added.

Draper’s win comes during what has been a solid season for the Brit who has won four Challenger titles. A former top 10 junior player, he won his first main draw Grand Slam match in June at Wimbledon and reached the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International.

Awaiting the youngster in the third round will be French veteran Gael Monfils who is playing in his first tournament since May. Monfils defeated Maxime Cressy 7-6(10), 7-6(8).

Draper is one of three British players to have reached the last 16 in Montreal. Ninth seed Cameron Norrie will next play home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime and Dan Evans faces Taylor Fritz.

According to the Pepperstone live ATP rankings, Draper will break into the world’s top 70 for the first time next week.

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