Australian Open: Osaka overpowers Hsieh en route to semis

By Sports Desk February 15, 2021

Former world number one Naomi Osaka was relentless as she dismantled Hsieh Su-wei to reach the Australian Open semi-finals 6-2 6-2.

Hsieh upstaged the likes of 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu en route to the quarter-finals, but the veteran was overpowered by Japanese star Osaka in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Three-time grand slam champion Osaka dominated from the outset, especially on serve – losing just two points on her first serve, as the third seed awaits record-chasing Serena Williams or Simona Halep in the final four at Melbourne Park.

Osaka emerged from the jaws of defeat in the last 16, saving a pair of match points to claim an improbable victory against last year's runner-up Garbine Muguruza.

And Osaka was a woman on a mission in sunny and warm conditions on Rod Laver Arena, where the 23-year-old broke for an early 3-1 lead.

Hsieh – the oldest player in the Open Era to make her grand slam quarter-final debut, aged 35 – had the chance to break back immediately, but Osaka held firm after fending off a pair to consolidate.

Osaka, who has gone on to win the title each time she has reached the quarter-finals of a major – beating Hsieh en route to the 2019 Australian Open crown, had another two break points saved but she still cruised in the first set.

It was a powerful but disciplined performance from Osaka, particularly on serve as she won 100 per cent of her points on first serve (12 of 12) against a helpless Hsieh.

The second set followed a similar theme – Osaka maintaining her dominance as she raced out to a 3-0 lead.

Osaka never relinquished the break, closing out the match on Hsieh's serve, with the six-time WTA Tour champion improving to 4-0 in quarter-final matches at slams, and 2-0 at the Australian Open.

 

Data Slam: ​Osaka extends streak
Eyeing a second Australian Open trophy, Osaka has now won 19 consecutive matches, dating back to February last year following the Tour's resumption amid the coronavirus pandemic. She last lost while on Fed Cup duty with Japan.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Osaka – 24/14
Hsieh – 14/23

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Osaka – 7/1
Hsieh – 0/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Osaka – 4/12
Hsieh – 0/3

Related items

  • South Africa believed but 'came up short' as Nienaber sees Rugby Championship hopes slip away South Africa believed but 'came up short' as Nienaber sees Rugby Championship hopes slip away

    South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber accepts his team have plenty of room for improvement with just under a year to go until their Rugby World Cup defence gets under way.

    The Springboks could only beat Argentina 38-21 in the final match of the Rugby Championship on Saturday, and that meant New Zealand took the trophy.

    South Africa required a try-scoring bonus point plus a winning margin of at least 39 points at Kings Park in Durban, but the Pumas would not be rolled over in such a manner.

    The daunting title target for the Boks had been set when the All Blacks posted a crushing 40-14 victory against Australia earlier in the day.

    Before their 2019 World Cup win, the Boks won a three-match Rugby Championship. The 2020 championship was cancelled due to the pandemic, but the All Blacks have now carried off the title in 2021 and 2022, this time around serving to ease some of the pressure on coach Ian Foster.

    It was tight this year, with New Zealand and South Africa both winning four of six games, but the All Blacks managed one more bonus point and a superior points difference.

    Nienaber is already looking forward to November away games against Ireland, France, Italy and England, as South Africa look to gather themselves for a big push into next year. The World Cup begins in September 2023 in France.

    "We are not there yet, we need to find consistency," Nienaber said. "In that regard, we will get a good idea where we are on the end-of-year tour.

    "We play the number one [Ireland] and number two [France] in the world in the first two games of the tour. So it will be a challenging tour for us."

    South Africa had not scored 39 points in a match, let alone won by that margin, since a 40-9 defeat of Georgia in July 2021.

    They last beat Argentina by such a hefty points margin in 2013, when posting a 73-13 landslide win, but the Pumas are far more competitive nowadays, as wins over Australia and New Zealand in this championship showed.

    Nienaber said his players still felt they could pull off the improbable against Argentina when they took to the field.

    "We saw it as a realistic target, we took on the task full on," Nienaber said, quoted by Supersport. "We needed to get a 39-point winning margin to win the trophy, and we all bought into it.

    "In the end we came up short, but you can never take a win in the Springbok jersey for granted, victory is always special. We are glad we came out on the right side of today's result, even if we didn't get what we needed to win the championship."

  • Spain 1-2 Switzerland: La Roja's Nations League Finals hopes dealt major blow Spain 1-2 Switzerland: La Roja's Nations League Finals hopes dealt major blow

    Spain will have to win in Portugal if they are to reach the Nations League Finals after suffering a shock 2-1 home defeat to Switzerland in Group A2 on Saturday.

    As Portugal cruised to a comfortable 4-0 win over Czech Republic, Luis Enrique's side failed to make the most of their superiority in Zaragoza and slumped to a first defeat since the 2021 Nations League final loss to France.

    Spain had great difficulty converting possession into a goal threat, at no point in the first half looking likely to cancel out Manuel Akanji's opener.

    Marco Asensio did inspire Jordi Alba's equaliser early in the second half, but an Eric Garcia own goal almost instantly had them playing catch up again and a second equaliser never materialised.

    Despite their dominance of the ball, Spain struggled to carve out chances and were behind in the 21st minute as Akanji met Ruben Vargas' corner with a header that found the top-right corner.

    The only other first-half shot on target for either team arrived just before the break, Unai Simon forced to keep Xherdan Shaqiri's effort out at his near post after the winger's incisive run.

    It took 55 minutes for Spain to muster an accurate attempt and it brought the equaliser, with Alba hammering home after Asensio released him at the end of a brilliant solo run.

    But the visitors quickly restored their lead – Garcia ultimately knocking into his own net following Akanji's flick-on from another Vargas corner.

    La Roja played most of the final 30 minutes camped in Switzerland's half, but their only clear opportunity saw Yann Sommer get down to thwart Carlos Soler and seal victory in stoppage time.

  • Nagelsmann has 'full backing of Bayern' as Salihamidzic expects return to form Nagelsmann has 'full backing of Bayern' as Salihamidzic expects return to form

    Julian Nagelsmann will turn around Bayern Munich's form after the international break and has the club's "full backing", sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has pledged.

    A run of three draws in the Bundesliga for Bayern was followed by a 1-0 defeat to Augsburg before many of Nagelsmann's players headed off on national team duty.

    Bayern sit fifth after seven rounds of games, five points adrift of early pace-setters Union Berlin, and they face Bayer Leverkusen next.

    Leverkusen have made a much worse start than Bayern, with the team that finished third in the Bundesliga last season winning just once so far this term.

    But almost all the focus is on Bayern, who have won the last 10 Bundesliga titles, and Salihamidzic has admitted the early form is a concern, but something that can be resolved.

    Salihamidzic told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper: "Julian is very clear. He and his team of coaches know exactly what to do.

    "Above all, Julian knows that he has the full backing of FC Bayern, that doesn't have to be emphasised again and again."

    Bayern's shot conversion rate in the Bundesliga has dipped from 14.41 per cent last season to 11.8 per cent this term, and it would be easy to point to the sale of Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona and suggest that has been a factor.

    It might well be; however, there are signs that Bayern are doing plenty right.

    They have already hit the woodwork seven times in seven games, three times more than any other side, which suggests they have been unfortunate. Over 34 games last season, they hit the woodwork 21 times.

    Their goal tally is closely tracking their expected goals (xG) score, and both being league highs can be interpreted as another healthy sign. Bayern have netted 19 from an xG of 17.48, so they are exceeding expectations, based on the quality of chances they have had, over the course of the seven games. Last season they finished with 97 league goals from xG of 96.67.

    A worrying sign is that Bayern have twice conceded a goal when an error has been committed, having done so only three times in the 2021-22 campaign.

    Salihamidzic said Bayern chiefs had spoken to Nagelsmann about "all aspects" of the opening weeks of the season, including the encouraging Champions League group wins over Inter and Barcelona.

    What is clear is that Bayern expect greater tenacity from the team after the disappointing derby effort against Augsburg.

    "We will appear differently after the international break. And I expect that too," Salihamidzic said. "Physical intensity, greed and the willingness to push yourself to the limit in every game are the prerequisites for success."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.