Osaka powers past veteran Hsieh into Australian Open semis

Published February 16, 2021, 1:21 PM

by Agence-France-Presse

Japan’s Naomi Osaka hits a return against Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei during their women’s singles quarter-final match on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 16, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP)

World number three Naomi Osaka stormed past Hsieh Su-wei in straight sets Tuesday to book an Australian Open semifinal against either Serena Williams or Simona Halep.  

The Japanese three-time Grand Slam champion overcame the Taiwanese world number 71’s unorthodox style 6-2, 6-2 in an all-Asian quarterfinal at a crowd-less Rod Laver Arena.

“I was pretty calm. I’m really happy how I played today,” said Osaka, who hit 24 winners in a dominant display lasting just 66 minutes against her 35-year-old opponent.

Osaka, 23, will play either 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams or world number two Halep for a place in Saturday’s final.

“I normally never look at my draw but everyone’s told me about it here,” said the three-time Grand Slam champion. 

“I always watch Serena’s matches. It’s definitely going to be a lot of fun.”

Osaka has gone on to win the title  each time she has reached the quarterfinals of a Slam and stayed on track for a second Australian Open title, having first won it in 2019. 

Hsieh, a renowned doubles player, has been the surprise package of the tournament and emerged as a fan favourite due to her eclectic style of play and affable personality. 

The veteran made history by becoming the oldest woman in the Open era to debut in the quarter-finals of a Slam.

Osaka, 12 years her junior, had admitted she was “not looking forward” to the tricky match-up, and her wariness was vindicated early with Hsieh throwing her off her rhythm with her shot-making.  

Osaka overcame some service struggles by dominating on return and with heavy groundstrokes to break Hsieh twice en route to win the first set. 

An early break in the second set enabled the third seed to cruise, in stark contrast to Osaka’s fourth-round match where she needed to save two match points in a tense battle against last year’s runner-up in Australia, Garbine Muguruza.    

US Open champion Osaka is riding a 19-match unbeaten streak dating back 12 months, but exited Melbourne Park early last year after her title defence ended with a shock loss to American teenager Coco Gauff in the third round.