Taiwan veteran Hsieh Su-wei said believing she was “still young” helped her sweep into a first Grand Slam quarter-final after 16 years of trying Sunday, becoming the oldest player to make a last-eight debut in the Open Era.
The 35-year-old overwhelmed Czech Marketa Vondrousova, a player 14 years her junior, in the Australian Open fourth round to set-up an all-Asia clash with Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
Hsieh, the current doubles world number one but ranked 71 in singles, got a early break in the opening set and never looked troubled in outwitting the 19th seed 6-4, 6-2, a player she also toppled in an Abu Dhabi warm-up event in January.
She made her Grand Slam debut in 2005 but had never gone beyond the fourth round before in 37 previous attempts.
“I try to pretend I’m only 18 years old. My mental (age) is very young,” she said on her secret for success.
“I also try to look little bit young this time, it helps a lot,” she added with a smile.
“For me, the most important thing is to stay happy, to enjoy it, not get injury.”
Hsieh, by far the least decorated player left in her side of the draw, had already shown her mettle by beating 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu.
One of the most unorthodox players in the women’s game, she won 80 percent of her first-service points against Vondrousova, who was hampered by 31 unforced errors.
Asked how she had been able to maintain her level over so many years, Hsieh recounted a story about her how her boyfriend’s parents almost fell asleep when they first came to watch her at the French Open.
“Before Roland Garros I was never able to beat the top 10 player,” she said. “I was dating my boyfriend, it was first year or second year, but his parents was first time coming to watch my match.
“So I see the parents, I think they look like they’re going to fall asleep. I think I play really bad. I tell myself, ‘Okay, now I don’t care what happen, I will try to get every ball, try to make it look little bit better’.
“At least I want to see them a little bit awake. That’s the way I get back, win the set and win the match. After that, I start winning (against) some top 10 players.”
Hsieh didn’t say when this happened, but before meeting Osaka she owned a 8-25 record against top 10 players with four of the wins coming at Grand Slams, including victory over Britain’s Johanna Konta, then ranked eight, at the 2017 French Open.