LONDON (Reuters) - Hsieh Su-wei’s game is so unorthodox she admits that finding practice partners has proved challenging in the past.
It might actually be a blessing in disguise though because the 32-year-old Taiwanese player is making quite a habit of catching some of the games biggest names off guard.
On Saturday she drove Romania’s world number one Simona Halep to distraction at Wimbledon, using her Pandora’s box of drop shots, lobs, slices and wristy winners to claim a memorable 3-6 6-4 7-5 win on a mesmerized Court One to reach the last 16.
At the start of the year she flummoxed Spanish big-hitter Garbine Muguruza at the Australian Open and tied former champion Angelique Kerber in knots before running out of gas. Last year she knocked seventh seed Johanna Konta out of the French Open.
Her practice partners have had a hard time coping with Hsieh’s unique approach, which she readily acknowledges.
“I drove the girls crazy before because when I practiced, in two shots I did a drop shot,” 48th-ranked Hsieh, who will face Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova for a place in her first Grand Slam quarter-final, told reporters.
“If I didn’t drop shot, I hit as hard as I could. The girl (practice partner) was like... maybe I should have someone to travel with me and I won’t drive the other girls crazy.
“Now I am a little bit better. I try to practice normal with the girls, don’t go too crazy on the drop shot.”
While most of the top players bring a fierce intensity to the court, Hsieh plays with a refreshing freedom, apparently making it up as she goes along.
At times she managed to make Halep look like a clumsy club player with her clever re-directions and, of course, her stock in trade drop shots that landed as softly as butterflies on the lush Wimbledon grass.
“I enjoy a lot on the court more than before,” Hsieh, who owns a Wimbledon doubles title, said. “I like to do some different stuff. I like to run.”
By the sound of it she also likes to eat and has spent her down time in Wimbledon sampling some local delights.
“This year I have tried to enjoy more, not just tennis but life, food, strawberries and cream, lobster,” she said.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris