Tennis duo Successful, yet as different as chalk and cheese
KEY BISCAYNE (Florida) — In tennis doubles, which treasures technique and tradition, China’s Peng Shuai and Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei became the first doubly double-handed pair to win a Grand Slam tournament when they won the women’s title at Wimbledon in July.
Both 28, they have used their unusual technique — two-handed forehands and backhands — to scale the rankings ladder quickly.
In February, Peng rose to No 1 in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) doubles rankings, becoming the first Chinese player to reach the top spot of any professional tennis rankings. Hsieh is No 2. They first played together as juniors 14 years ago, won four professional titles together in 2008 and 2009, and reunited last year at the urging of Hsieh’s coach, two-time Wimbledon doubles champion Paul McNamee, who felt that Hsieh could win a Grand Slam.
He recalled: “I asked her: ‘Who do you think is your best partner?’ She said: ‘Peng.’ So, I said we should get you two back together.”
Last year, the duo won a tour-best five titles together. They have two this year. At the rate they are going, they will be competing at the WTA Championships (Oct 17-26) at the Singapore Sports Hub.
“It’s really exciting, but also a bit of a surprise,” Peng said of their success.
Hsieh said she used Peng’s calm consistency as an anchor.
“If I have a problem at the baseline, at the net, she can cover me,” Hsieh said. “This is very good for me because I can move anywhere and she just smashes the ball.”
McNamee believes Hsieh derives her strength and happiness from this spontaneity. “She’s a free spirit and she needs that freedom to express herself,” he said.
“If you get her to play a regimented style, it would ruin her spirit. When she’s happy, she plays well.”