AO R1: Yulia Putintseva vs. Su-Wei Hsieh
A fascinating first round match-up at Melbourne Park on Tuesday sees Yulia Putintseva come up against Su-Wei Hsieh. This match-up sees two of the tours most versatile and entertaining players do battle with both very keen to avoid what would be a disappointing opening round exit at the first major of the year.
Putintseva has made a decent start to the year, the Kazakh successfully made her way through the qualifying draw in Brisbane and Adelaide. In Brisbane Putintseva defeated Donna Vekic in the opening round of the main draw before being smashed by an in-from Danielle Collins in straight sets. In Adelaide Putintseva’s man draw campaign ended at the opening hurdle with a tough straight set loss to Ajla Tomljanovic. With 8 matches under her belt across those 2 weeks Putintseva heads to Melbourne Park in a good space.
Hsieh arrives in Melbourne on the back of consecutive opening round defeats. Hsieh was beaten by Anett Kontaveit in straight sets in Brisbane before suffering an agonizing 3 set loss to Aryna Sabalenka in Adelaide from 5-3 30-0 up in the third set. On a positive note, Hsieh did win the doubles title alongside Barbora Strycova in Brisbane.
Hsieh has emerged victorious in the two prior meetings between the pair. Most recently Hsieh claimed a 1-6 7-5 6-3 victory over the Kazakh on clay in Rome a few years ago. Hsieh also defeated Putintseva on a hard court at an ITF event in 2015, a 7-6 2-6 6-2 victory on that occasion.
Putintseva and Hsieh have both had some notable moments at Melbourne Park in recent times. In 2016 Putintseva upset Caroline Wozniacki in the first round before reaching the third round, that was Putintseva’s greatest run at a Grand Slam outside of Roland Garros where she is a 2-time former quarter-finalist. Putintseva has claimed hard-fought first round wins over Lara Arruabarrena, Heather Watson and Barbora Strycova in her last 3 visits to Melbourne.
Hsieh went on a fairy-tale run to the fourth round in Melbourne in 2018 with wins over Agnieszka Radwanska and Garbine Muguruza before pushing an in-form Angelique Kerber to 3 sets in what was an epic match. Last year Hsieh made the third round where she pushed eventual finalist Naomi Osaka to 3 sets.
I’m going to side with Putintseva here. Firstly, Putintseva has won quite a few matches already this year, even if they were against inferior opponents in qualifying draws, a win is a win, winning momentum is important at this time of the year. Hsieh on the other hand has not won a match in singles this year. Secondly, I think the court surface in Melbourne will favour Putintseva. The courts in Melbourne are generally quite gritty and on the slower side, this will favour Putintseva’s heavier game. Putintseva can use her heavy forehand to get the ball up high on Hsieh where the Taiwanese player is less dangerous. Therefore, this is a good matchup for Putintseva on this surface. Putintseva can turn this into a baseline struggle where she will fancy her chances. The versatility and net play of Hsieh wont trouble Putintseva like it troubles others, it will actually work in Putintseva’s favour, the Kazakh loves a target at the net and is good at dealing with slice.
Prediction: Yulia Putintseva to defeat Su-Wei Hsieh in 3 sets
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