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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Aljaz Bedene rallies from one set down to beat Jannik Sinner in Montpellier

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Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene came back from one set down to beat 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner 3-6 6-2 7-6 (7-5) to reach the second round at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. Sinner was hindered by a back injury in the final stages of the match. 

 

Bedene entered the match with a 2-1 lead in his head-to-head matches against Sinner, but the Italian 19-year-old player won their most recent clash at the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne en route to the second title of his career.  

Sinner earned his only break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 and held his next service games to close out the opening set 6-3 with a forehand down the line. 

Sinner went down 0-40 in the fourth game of the second set on serve, but he saved three consecutive break points. Bedene converted his fourth break point at deuce, as Sinner made an error at the net. Sinner forced the next game to deuce, but Bedene held his serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Bedene closed out the second set 6-2 with his double break at 15.

Sinner saved a break point and held serve after two deuces in the second game. The Italian player wasted two break points in the third and fifth games. 

Sinner earned an erly mini-break, but Bedene got back on serve immediately. Bedene opened up a 4-2 lead with two more mini-breaks in the tie-break before Sinner received a medical time-out to a lower back injury. Bedene earned two more mini-breaks to close out the match after 2 hours and 39 minutes. 

Bedene becomes the first player outside the top 10 to defeat Sinner indoors in a year. Sinner entered the match on a 10-match indoor winning streak against players outside the top 10, which dated back to the quarter final defeat against Pablo Carreno Busta in Rotterdam. 

“In the first set Sinner was the better player. Afterwards, I became more aggressive and was making less mistakes. I think that decided it. On the important points I was there. I didn’t lose my focus”, said Bedene. 

Bedene set up a second round match against Egor Gerasimov, who beat Andy Murray 7-6 (10-8) 6-1on Tuesday evening. 

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina converted six of his fifteen break points to overcome Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-2 setting up a second round match against Hubert Hurkacz. 

French qualifier Gregoire Barrere broke twice in each set and won 65 % of his second service points to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 6-4. 

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Marin Cilic beats Taro Daniel to reach the quarter final at the Singapore Open

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Former US Open champion and world number 3 Marin Cilic won 82% of his first-serve points and and fended off three of the four break points he faced to claim a 7-5 6-4 win over Taro Daniel after 1 hour and 40 minutes at the Singapore Tennis Open. 

 

Cilic converted his second break point at deuce in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Daniel broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Cilic earned his second break in the 11th game and served out the first set at love in the 10th game. Cilic earned the only break in the 10th game to seal the second set 6-4. 

Cilic set up a quarter final match against South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon, who came back from one set down to beat Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 4-6 6-3 6-4. 

Fourth seed Alexander Bublik fired 10 aces to beat Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek 6-3 6-2. Bublik will take on Yoshihito Nishioka, who won 62 % of hsi second serve points to claim a 6-4 6-2 win over Maxime Cressy. 

Australia’s Alexei Popyrin overcame Adrian Andreev 6-1 5-7 6-3. Popyrin earned two breaks in the fourth and sixth games to win the first set 6-1. Andreev sealed the second set 7-5 with his only break in the 12th game. Poppyrin broke twice in the fifth and ninth games to close out the third set 6-3.  

Italy’s Roberto Marcora broke once in each set to upset former top 10 player Ernest Gulbis 7-5 6-4 setting up a second round match against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Matthew Ebden edged Yuki Bhambri 6-3 7-6 (7-3) to secure his spot in the second round where he will face second round match against second seed John Millman.

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Lorenzo Sonego beats Sebastian Korda to reach the quarter final in Montpellier

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Lorenzo Sonego cruised past US Next Gen player Sebastian Korda 6-3 6-2 after 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the quarter final for the eighth time in his career on the ATP Tour. Sonego will face either David Goffin or Benjamin Bonzi. 

 

Sonego did not convert a break point at 2-1 in the opening set. Korda earned two break points in the fifth game, but Sonego saved them at deuce. The Italian player broke serve at 15 to open up a 4-2 lead and held his next service games to claim the first set 6-3.

The second set went on serve the first four games before Sonego earned a break with a forehand passing shot to take a 3-2 lead. The 2020 Vienna finalist came back from 0-30 down to hold his serve before breaking for the second time in the seventh game at 15 to race out a 5-2 lead. Sonego served out the win on his first match point in the eighth game to reach his first ATP Tour quarter finals this year.

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