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No sponsor? No problem. Tennis outsider Hsieh Su-Wei looks back on a memorable Australian Open

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With her radiant smile, wry sense of humor and self-confidence to do things her own way, Hsieh Su-Wei captured the hearts of the audience during the Australian Open

The Taiwanese star, ranked as one of the world’s best doubles, reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne, the furthest she’s ever gone as a singles player in a grand slam.

Despite being eliminated by the eventual champion Naomi Osaka, it was an experience the 35-year-old really enjoyed, even in defeat.

“Every moment is very special, it doesn’t matter if it wins or loses, because sometimes you learn a lot when you lose,” said Hsieh. CNN Sport.

“Like it [when] I played Naomi, I saw the number of her serving speed, I was like, ‘Wow.’ You have to look ahead, look at the good parts. I am such a person.

“I’m trying to do a little bit better because, you know, with my style, I wouldn’t serve like Naomi, but I’ll try to improve.”

Unlike most players on the professional tour, Hsieh doesn’t have a kit or racket sponsor, meaning she pays for all of her equipment herself.

According to coach Paul McNamee, she can go on for years without changing rackets, something many players do multiple times during a single match.

Speak to reporters at the Australian Open, McNamee said that Hsieh had not once changed rackets for three years and only thought it was time for a change when the strings started to break.

READ: Australian Open fans criticized for berating the announcement of the Covid-19 vaccine

Playing without a sponsor

Ranked 50th in the world on the singles tour, Hsieh remains relaxed about the possibility that her success in Melbourne would see a flurry of sponsorship opportunities coming her way.

“People say it’s struggling with a sponsorship situation, but I don’t think that way because a sponsor always comes to me, but I don’t have a manager,” said Hsieh, who has. career earnings in excess of $ 9 million.

So for me if I don’t find someone I can work with [with], then I can concentrate better on tennis because I am a tennis player. You cannot forget what you are doing and what your first priority is. So I just make decisions. Very easy.

“I don’t think it’s bad to have it or not.”

Hsieh grew up in the junior ranks in Taiwan, a country without much tennis infrastructure, and Hsieh demonstrated her early potential, but her father and mentor were never able to secure a sponsorship deal.

She said her slender stature was used to scare off potential sponsors, asking her to come back when she grew a little more.

Undeterred, Hsieh started playing professionally at the age of 16, although life on tour was not easy. She struggled to register for tournaments and had to plan everything herself. That was until she met McNamee.

The former Australian tennis player took a Hsieh under his wing in 2011 and took all the administrative headaches out of her hands. It allowed Hsieh to focus on her game and unleash her true potential.

“He’s a bit like my teacher, my parents, my family, and a good friend,” Hsieh said of McNamee’s influence.

“He was always behind me, next to me, it was very useful. I feel so much support and so much warmth.

“I feel very happy because when you work with people who are always nice and positive, you get a lot of good energy.”

READ ALSO: World number 114 makes history at the Australian Open with a run to the semi-finals

Australian Open run

Hsieh has won three grand slam doubles titles, making her one of Asia’s most successful players, and her unorthodox style of play makes her a constant thorn in some of the top sport.

She seems to play on instinct, which, if nothing else, often makes for a great game for those who watch.

However, despite her record run in Melbourne this year, Hsieh was not feeling in top form leading up to the tournament.

“It’s really weird because before the tournament started 24 hours earlier, I didn’t really get into the feeling of tennis and suddenly, on Sunday, I just felt like, oh, I should play like this and then I can start, ”said Hsieh, who was one of the 72 players in one strict quarantine of 14 days prior to the start of the Australian Open.

“This is what happens. Sometimes tennis is like a feeling, mental[ity] or you just have to change a little bit and it happens. “

Her refreshing approach to life and the sport of tennis shows no signs of slowing down as she ages.

But be careful not to mention her age too much, as a reporter in Melbourne discovered at his expense.

After Hsieh upset the odds by beating 2019 US champion Bianca Andreescu in straight sets, interviewer Brett Phillips on court congratulated her on the win and asked, after mentioning her age, how many years she thinks she can keep playing.

Hsieh gave a rapier response to the question, followed by her signature smile.

“Small memory [for] you. In Asia, we don’t normally say publicly how old the girl is, ”she said, putting her finger to her mouth to silence the interviewer.

Age is just a number

Age is simply a number for the Taiwanese star.

“I’m not focused on that, so it’s not a problem for me, I’m just doing what I have to do,” she said.

“I try to make my work a bit different. Every year I try to find something different to make it happen, to be firmer or move better. “

Now based in Paris, France, with her boyfriend and coach Frederic Aniere, Hsieh is looking to make the most of her remaining years in the game.

She has proven throughout her career that she is capable of mixing with the best singles players on the WTA Tour and fans will certainly hope to see more of her in the upcoming grand slams.

“For me it is very important to stay healthy, to be happy and to work hard. You just have to be patient, ”she said, adding that life in Paris gives her the perfect opportunity to enjoy her second love; food.

“Look for other things you’ve never tried because I’m the person who likes to try all the food and I like to try other skills on the field.

“Practice something you never use on the field because you never know when you might use it.”

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