Naomi Osaka Defeats Su-Wei Hsieh to Advance to 2021 Australian Open Semifinals

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2021

Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts after winning a point against Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair)
Andy Brownbill/Associated Press

Naomi Osaka is through to the semifinals of the 2021 Australian Open following a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Su-Wei Hsieh on Tuesday in Melbourne.

#AusOpen @AustralianOpen

Heading to the semifinals with a smile 😊 @naomiosaka was too strong for Hsieh defeating her 6-2 6-2 👏 #AusOpen | #AO2021 https://t.co/IUs4jApZIc

After dispatching Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round, Osaka made it clear she wasn't going to overlook the unranked Hsieh.

"In a sense, whenever I play, I feel like the ball is on my racquet," she said. "Whenever I play [Hsieh], there's a bit of hesitation in that mindset for me. So, yeah, it's definitely going to be tough. At the same time, it's the quarters of a Slam, so it would be weird if it wasn't tough."

Osaka's 4-1 head-to-head record over Hsieh obscured how close the gap on the court had been between the two. All but one of those previous five encounters went to three sets.

The level of respect Osaka displayed toward Hsieh speaks, to some extent, to why she took control early in the opening set. The three-time Grand Slam champion didn't let Hsieh's unorthodox style shake her focus.

The Tennis Podcast @TennisPodcast

As pointed out by @LDavenport76 on @TennisChannel... Hsieh doesn't hit a two-handed forehand. She hits a righty backhand and a lefty backhand. #AusOpen https://t.co/WiW7WLMv3B

Simply by looking at the scoreline, one would get the impression Osaka dominated the first set.

But Hsieh staved off three straight break-point opportunities in the fourth game to stay alive before eventually dropping serve. She turned around and had two break-point opportunities in the next game but was unable to capitalize.

If Hsieh had managed to win either of those two games, the set may have unfolded much differently.

#AusOpen @AustralianOpen

.@naomiosaka closes out the first set! She takes the opener from Hsieh 6-2 🎾 #AusOpen | #AO2021 https://t.co/gY7eTerYqX

The second frame was a far different story.

This was the deepest the 35-year-old has gone into a Grand Slam singles tournament, and she seemed to run out of steam. In general, relying on working the angles to overcome a younger, more powerful opponent leaves a slim margin for error, too.

Hsieh wasn't as effective from the baseline, while Osaka was simply too good on serve to allow any opening for a break. Osaka dropped just five of her 22 points on serve and racked up four aces.

This was far from a perfect match for the 23-year-old. Only getting in 48 percent of her first serves again might spell doom later in the tournament.


What's Next?

Osaka will meet Simona Halep or Serena Williams in the semis. Their encounter is scheduled to open the night session at Rod Laver Arena.


Stats courtesy of the Australian Open's official site.