Home Players Tennis artist Hsieh Su-We and her racquet

Tennis artist Hsieh Su-We and her racquet

by TN

Have you seen Hsieh Su-We play? She plays tennis differently from anyone on the WTA or ATP tours, and it’s a joy to watch.

Tennis on the pro tours can sometimes be a little bit one-dimensional. In the men’s game, you can get a match-up between two big servers and in the women’s game, you can get lulled to sleep to endless and relatively pace-less baseline rallies. Like with any sport, it’s mainly a match-up thing. If you get contrasting styles and personalities on the court, you are usually in for a treat. And then there are players like Hsieh Su-We play, who approach the sport differently.

You can see some highlights of Hsieh Su-We’s play in the WTA video below. I also found a fascinating interview on the WTA Insider with Courtney Nguyen and Hsieh Su-We’s coach Paul McNamee where talked about how Su-We played with a broken string without noticing.

Hsieh Su We’s Racquet

It might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but I found these quotes from coach McNamee about Hsieh Su We’s racquet particularly entertaining. Read the full interview to find out more about Hsieh Su We (linked above).

“Players change racquets on the change of balls, right? She’ll go years with the same racquet.”

“She was playing a match in Eastbourne one day. She missed two balls in a row by three meters. Change ends, keeps going. She’s missing balls by so far. That’s not Su-Wei. She misses by millimeters normally.

“I noticed she was playing with broken strings in her racquet, literally playing with broken strings. She hadn’t broken a string for three years. You tell me a player that uses the same racquet for three years and doesn’t change the racquet. 

“We had a bit of trauma before this tournament because she had to get a restring before the tournament. That’s once a year. Players change racquets on the change of balls, right? She’ll go years with the same racquet.

“She didn’t know what it was like to play with a broken string, so she didn’t know it was broken. One of the reasons is she hits the ball so purely in the center of the racquet. Most people break strings when they hit it around the frame.

According to tennis-prose.com she uses an extended (29-inch!) Yonex VCORE Pro 97 330. By the looks of it, she strings it with Yonex Poly Tour Pro strings. The racquet must have a massive swing weight, but with her short swing style, double-handed on both wings and with a lot of short, crafty spins, I think her racquet choice makes sense.

Most players on the WTA Tour uses a light, stiff and powerful racquet with a 100 sq inch head size, but Hsieh Su We is also different in her choice of racquet. 29-inch length racquets are rare, but double-handers Bartoli and Seles also used them back in the day. I think the extra control she gets from the 97 sq inch head size will help her create these angled drop shots that win her so many points.

I think having players with unique styles is essential to the game’s creative nature, and I hope we get to see more artists like Hsieh Su We high up in the rankings.

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8 comments

António February 15, 2021 - 4:34 pm

She plays similar to Santoro, don’t you think?

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TN February 15, 2021 - 4:56 pm

Yes, very much so!

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Hans February 15, 2021 - 7:33 pm

Maybe now, finally, the sports commentators will bother to expend the minor effort to learn to pronounce her name correctly…

Hsieh apparently has no sponsors and it’s said to be for political reasons (she is from Taiwan). All manufacturers have production in China and the ones who do not haven’t got the will to do anything that mispleases the dictatorship. Even WTA lists her nationality as “Chinese Taipei”.

Link to article about her racquet story: https://www.tennis-prose.com/articles/scoop/su-wei-hsiehs-racquet-story/

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John B February 15, 2021 - 8:04 pm

And she’s current world no 1 in doubles with three (3) grand slam titles to her name. She was also number 1 back in 2014.

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Hans February 16, 2021 - 3:46 pm

I just watched Hsieh / Osaka. No surprise because Osaka has so much firepower. One metric stood out in the post-game statistics. Hsieh won 100% of net points.

I wonder if the string break incident has contributed to the better play from Hsieh in AO. I know I would play better with new strings compared to 3 years old ones used for thousands of hours. A precision player like Hsieh must get a noticeable boost?

I wonder how she might improve serve with a lower swing weight. She must be over 450 grams today.

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AceyMan February 16, 2021 - 10:24 pm

Big HSW fan here.

From what I see, she has played some model of the VCore Pro 97 in recent months as I’ve seen this in her hand in some still photos on Instagram and such.

That being said, the stick she used in all Australian Open matches had the black and red graphics, indicating she’s still using the VCORE Duel G 97 for match play. (Or maybe the VCP was just a trial, and she’s back to the Duel G.)

Cheers,
/Acey

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Dave Zarco February 17, 2021 - 2:00 am

Being a badminton player, I’ve often noted if a tennis player were to employ badminton strategy in a tennis match, they could run their opponents ragged.

In watching Hsieh Su We’s style of play, it only proves my point. She has excellent ball control, and her drop shots are superb bringing her opponents so close to the net, then following up with a lob just out of their reach. That’s basic badminton singles strategy at work and she executes it masterfully.

I know it’s extremely difficult to apply this against today’s power hitters, but she’s also fit enough to run down her opponents’ shots while sending them back to the other side of the court to chase her returns.

Well done, Hsieh Su We!

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Franco Robledo February 19, 2021 - 1:40 am

First thing I noticed was her badminton style. She had a good coach growing up.

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