MARIA SHARAPOVA PRAISED Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei for driving her crazy with her unusual style of play during the world number one’s 6-1, 6-4 victory in the Wimbledon third round today.
Sharapova remains on course for a third Wimbledon final after seeing off world number 63 Hsieh in blustery conditions on Court One, but the Russian acknowledged it had been exactly the kind of tricky contest she anticipated.
The 25-year-old faced Hsieh — the first Taiwanese woman to reach the last 32 at Wimbledon in the Open era — many times on the junior circuit and became familiar with her opponent’s constant changes of pace and switching of her racquet from her right to left hand during rallies.
With the wind also playing havoc with her serve, Sharapova was never at her best, but she eventually found a way to subdue Hsieh and was quick to pay tribute to the 26-year-old for pushing her all the way in their first meeting on the senior tour.
“I faced her many times in the juniors. She used to be a nightmare for me because she used to slice and dropshot on clay,” Sharapova said.
“I was like, ‘Where did they learn how to play tennis like that?’ She uses both hands, switches racquets.
“That’s her game, it’s to hit a lot of dropshots and slices and get people kind of crazy.”
Sharapova admitted her knowledge of Hsieh’s style was crucial as she focused on how to get on top of the Taiwan number one rather than becoming frustrated when points went against her.
“We used to have real battles in the juniors. I knew her game really well and I don’t think she had time to do all of that today on grass.
“If I’m hitting a hard paced shot, I don’t think she really has time to create, which is something that she really likes to do.
While Hsieh bowed out, there was better news elswhere for Asian tennis as Chinese 30th seed Peng Shuai stormed into the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Arantxa Rus.
Holland’s Rus had shocked US Open champion and fifth seed Sam Stosur in the previous round, but she couldn’t summon up a repeat of that dynamic display and was blown away by Peng’s all-court dominance on Court 12.
Peng, who also reached the last 16 at Wimbledon 12 months ago, will face 17th seed Maria Kirilenko or Romania’s Sorana Cirstea for a place in the quarter-finals.
The 26-year-old Chinese star has never reached a Grand Slam quarter-final, falling in the fourth round three times in 2011 at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
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