STUTTGART, Germany – After winning her first round match at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Belinda Bencic was asked a simple hypothetical: if there was a player on the WTA Tour who led a secret life as a superhero, who would it be?
“I think it would be Su-Wei Hsieh because she sometimes I think she has superpowers,” the affable Swiss said with a laugh.
It was a light-hearted moment, but one that gives insight into the respect and awe the tour has for the creative, talented, and mercurial Hsieh. The 33-year-old from Chinese Taipei is enjoying a career-best season so far, deploying her unique game-style to unwind the game’s best through the first three months of the season.
Hsieh’s year began with a semifinal run in Auckland and continued to gain steam. She defeated Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber to make the semifinals in Dubai and then earned her first win over a reigning No.1 en route to the quarterfinals in Miami, defeating Naomi Osaka in the third round.
Now ranked No.24 – just one off her career-high of No.23 in 2013 – Hsieh comes into the clay season refreshed and ready.
“It was amazing for me to have almost one month off. It shows I’m doing better than in the past because normally the first tournament [on clay] in the past was [bad]. So far so good.”
“Today I was making some mistakes, which was unexpected because I was practicing pretty well, better than I expected. So I thought I would play better. I started to make mistakes, so I said I have to start to smile. It helped a little bit.”
“On clay, it can be pretty good, it can be pretty bad. I know I can suddenly get the feeling and I can feel really comfortable on the court. Even if I lose a match, I know it’s coming.
“So I’m not worried about the clay court. I have a few tournaments before Roland Garros, so I just want to enjoy.”
Hsieh spent part of her time off eating her way through Copenhagen on a four-day foodie vacation, which included a trip to the world-renowned restaurant Noma, which has been named the best restaurant in the world.
“It was so amazing! My friend booked the restaurant right after Miami. I was quite excited I hurt my back. I was supposed to play Charleston. But I thought my back was really bad, so I pulled out. My friend was coming to Europe so I asked my boyfriend, maybe we go to Copenhagen.
“Copenhagen has 26 restaurants with Michelin stars. The second meal we had, we found a place on the street with a Michelin. It was so good.”
After scoring a three-set win over Wang Qiang in the first round, Hsieh now faces a very familiar foe on Thursday: Naomi Osaka. This will be the third meeting between the two this season, with both of their prior meetings being highly dramatic encounters. At the Australian Open, Osaka rallied from a set and a break down to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 in the third round. Hsieh avenged the loss in Miami, winning 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3.
Why is it that Osaka’s power game and Hsieh’s unorthodox shot-making yield three-set matches every time? Hsieh’s answer was simple.
“I think we love each other too much,” Hsieh joked. “We just want to see each other more on the court. Don’t leave me, Naomi!”