MELBOURNE, Australia — Hsieh Su-Wei beat Bianca Andreescu at her own game Wednesday at the Australian Open.
The world No. 71 from Taiwan was creative, effective and in full control of their second-round match at Rod Laver Arena. Hsieh mixed up her shots nicely — normally an Andreescu trademark — and eliminated the Canadian 6-3, 6-2 in a comfortable 83 minutes.
“Even in those tough moments, I thought I could break her a little bit,” Andreescu said. “But she was on every single ball.”
Andreescu, seeded eighth at the Grand Slam event, struggled from the start against her 71st-ranked opponent and never really got on track.
The 2019 US Open champion earned a three-set victory Monday in her first competitive match in 15 months. But she couldn’t generate any momentum against the crafty veteran on a hot, sunny morning at Melbourne Park.
Hsieh consistently worked Andreescu around the court and kept her off-balance. She used power when she needed to and played the angles well.
Andreescu displayed flashes of the championship form that she exhibited in her breakout 2019 season but was forced to rely on her power game when other shots weren’t working. An inconsistent serve and uncharacteristic mistakes — likely a sign of rust from so much time away — were her undoing.
“My serve was absolute crap today,” she said. “So yeah, that didn’t help.”
Just 60 per cent of Andreescu’s first serves were in play and she had 25 unforced errors to 14 for Hsieh.
Andreescu suffered a torn meniscus in her left knee in October 2019. The 20-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., focused on training last year rather than a return to the WTA Tour once it resumed after a pause due to the pandemic.
Upon arrival in Australia last month, Andreescu endured a 14-day hard quarantine in her hotel. She declined to play in a warmup tournament last week, electing to focus on practice sessions and training.
Andreescu had no regrets about the decision.
“I don’t feel (I’m playing) my best on the court for sure, but I’m super-happy that I’m finally back after being off for so long,” she said.
The other Canadian left in the women’s singles draw was also eliminated Wednesday as 19th-seeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic defeated Vancouver qualifier Rebecca Marino 6-1, 7-5.
It was Marino’s first Grand Slam appearance since 2013. Her opening-round win was her first victory at a major since 2011.
In men’s second-round play, Felix Auger-Aliassime, the 20th seed from Montreal, defeated Australia’s James Duckworth 6-4, 6-1, 6-2, and No. 11 seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., downed Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.
The two Canadians will meet each other in the third round following their victories.
Also, No. 14 seed Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., topped Corentin Moutet of France 6-7(7), 6-1, 6-1, 6-4.
In women’s doubles, the sixth-seeded pair of Gabriela Dabrowski of Ottawa and American Bethanie Mattek-Sands opened with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena and American Kaitlyn Christian. Meanwhile, Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., and Heather Watson of Great Britain beat the 10th-seeded duo of China’s Shuai Zhang and Australia’s Samantha Stosur 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Fernandez lost her first-round singles match on Tuesday.
Andreescu started her match with a double-fault and was broken in her first game. Shots were sailing on her and Hsieh was more consistent.
Hsieh showed off great retrieval skills and left few openings for her opponent. Andreescu was forced to do more legwork and it seemed to affect her rhythm.
Andreescu gave up another break and started to get more aggressive after dropping her fourth straight game. She later earned a break of her own to get to 3-5 but Hsieh served things out, converting her third set point when Andreescu shanked a ground stroke.
Hsieh has a potent game from the backcourt but was no match for Andreescu’s power. The 35-year-old right-hander instead relied on other tools and it was effective.
Mixing in off-speed slices with her baseline game left Andreescu hamstrung at times. Hsieh frequently worked Andreescu out wide and was able to dictate the play.
“The fact that she can change the rhythm — I know I can change the rhythm too — but she’s just on another level, at least today,” Andreescu said.
Hsieh also wasn’t afraid to go for it, finding the line with a strong backhand off a second serve for a winner and break at 4-2.
Andreescu fought off two match points before Hsieh sealed her spot in the third round.
“She played really well, I have to give credit to her,” Andreescu said. “I definitely have to get back into the groove of things and hopefully that’ll be sooner than later.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2021.