The Unconventional Style of Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei

Tennis has always been a sport that invites one’s creativity and personal spice into play. Hsieh Su-wei is one player that truly lives up to this notion.

Hsieh Su-wei is a name that rings a bell to many, particularly for the nation of Taiwan as the country’s best WTA tennis player on Tour. Introduced to tennis at the age of 5, Hsieh would eventually rock the tennis world with her unique style of play and on-court creativity which has caught the eyes of many and attracted a worldwide fan following.

The first thing to note about her playstyle is her extremely uncommon double-handed forehand. With a double-handed backhand to go with it, you will rarely see the Taiwanese hold the racquet with one hand, with the exception of serves and volleys.

Known for her strategic and tactical approach to the game, Su-wei has produced some of the most memorable points in the WTA, incorporating a huge range of slicing, lobbing, and drop-shotting into the mix, and often exhausting her opponents as they scurry to hit balls from all corners of the court. A classic Hsieh-style point would involve a drop shot to draw the opponent in, followed by a perfectly placed lob that bounces on the baseline to seal the deal.

Indeed, Su-wei’s style is notably more effective in doubles tennis, where deep slices can set up a volley “put-away” finish, and skillful lobs can consistently by-pass the opposing volleyer. Naturally, her superiority in doubles tennis is reflected in her WTA rankings, whereby she is currently ranked as the world number 3 in the WTA, as opposed to her singles rank at number 53.

As the former world number 1 in doubles, Su-wei has 2 Wimbledon doubles titles and 1 French Open doubles title for a total of 3 Grand Slam doubles titles to her name. Additionally, the 35-year-old made the semis at the US Open doubles in 2012 and earned the runner-up title at the 2020 Australian Open doubles tournament, showing that she can play well with a variety of doubles partners, notably Barbora Strycova, Anabel Medina Garrigues, and Peng Shuai.

Nonetheless, she has shown to be an exceptional singles player as well, reaching the Australian Open 2021 quarter-finals for the first time in her career, where she was defeated by eventual champion and current WTA world number 2 Naomi Osaka. Despite conceding a convincing scoreline of 6-2 6-2, Naomi Osaka made the following comments regarding her opponent:

“I’m definitely really happy with how I played today. Every time I play her it’s always such a battle,” Osaka said. “Even though the score was like this, it was actually another battle for me. She’s able to hit winners off both sides. You never know when she’s about to go for it.”

Hsieh Su-wei has shown that tennis is not all about how hard you can hit the ball, or how much heavy topspin you can apply. Rather, the 35-year-old from Taiwan has exposed a creative side to tennis that has caught the eyes of many, revealing a very unique style of play that is nothing short of pure inspiration.

Indeed, from her double-handed groundstrokes on both sides to her mastery of under-spin slices and an overall unique tactical approach to the game combining lobs, drop shots, and counter-punches, Hsieh Su-wei has paved the way for all unorthodox tennis players of the world. Creatives and out-of-the-box thinkers alike unite as this beautiful and perhaps forgotten side of the sport has resurfaced in the form of Taiwan’s greatest tennis player of this era.