Taipei, June 29 (CNA) Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei gave Maria Sharapova a battle in gusty conditions at Wimbledon Friday before falling to the world No. 1 6-1, 6-4 in their third round match.
Sharapova steamrolled the unorthodox Hsieh in the first set, playing at a pace that overwhelmed the Taiwanese player and freely pounding powerful groundstrokes that Hsieh had trouble simply getting back.
Hsieh's woes were compounded by second serves that lacked both pace and depth and essentially fed the fiery Sharapova easy opportunities for winners. The 26-year-old won only 5 of 16 points on her second serve in the opening set.
But Hsieh seemed to get a confidence boost when she broke the Russian to open the second set.
Though she lost the next two games, the Taiwanese then held serve for the first time since the opening game of the match to pull even at 2-2, finally showing the different speeds and spins she generates with her two-handed groundstrokes from both the forehand and backhand side that can befuddle even the best of opponents.
Hsieh also got some help from the wind, which caused the world No. 1 to double fault twice in the fifth game -- including one serve so badly mishit it fell shockingly short of the net -- to put Hsieh up 3-2.
The Taiwanese veteran, who had already advanced further in the women's singles at Wimbledon this year than any other Taiwanese player in history, then held serve to take a 4-2 lead only to have Sharapova pull back in the next two games.
In the pivotal ninth game, Sharapova again struggled with the wind, serving two double faults and making a hash of a forehand to give Hsieh a break point.
But the Taiwanese could not close a rally she controlled, hitting a poor drop shot that allowed the Russian to stave off the threat.
Sharapova served out the game and then broke Hsieh to clinch the match after Hsieh saved two match points.
For the world No. 63 Taiwanese player, who started the year ranked outside the world's top 150, the inability to close out the second set will be disappointing, but she will get another shot at the grass courts of Wimbledon during the London Olympics.
Hsieh earned entry to both the women's singles and women's doubles at the Summer Games, and after a shaky first set against the world No. 1 Russian, she proved that she belongs.
(By Luke Sabatier)