Match of the Day: Aryna Sabalenka vs Hsieh Su-Wei, Adelaide

Match of the Day: Aryna Sabalenka vs Hsieh Su-Wei, Adelaide

With both players seeking much-needed match play ahead of the Australian Open, the Belarusian aims to notch her first win over the world No. 34 on Tuesday.

It’s always a treat when two players with completely different game styles face off. A player's game is often an expression of their personality, and it’s harder to think of a bigger clash of styles than Aryna Sabalenka and Hsieh Su-Wei. 

Sabalenka, one of the more one-dimensional players on tour, will be looking to get her 2020 season back on track after falling to Kristyna Pliskova in the second test of her Shenzhen Open title defense. Sabalenka has one gear: pedal to the metal from start to finish. If her A-game isn’t there, she can have trouble finding ways to win. Her approach almost always rests solely on blasting the ball harder than her opponent. 

Hsieh also started the season on a disappointing note. She was throttled by Anett Kontaveit, 6-4, 6-1, in her Brisbane opener. She did manage to find her form in doubles, winning the title with Barbora Strycova over Ashleigh Barty and Kiki Bertens. That aside, Hsieh is in desperate need of singles match play. Before losing to Kontaveit, her last singles match was on September 27th in Beijing. 

World No. 12 Sabalenka owns the advantage over Hsieh in pretty much every statistical category except the most important one: head-to-head record. Her hyper-aggression has played right into the hands of Hsieh, a counterpuncher extraordinaire occupying a 2-0 advantage. However, none of Hsieh’s victories came on a hard court, Sabalenka’s favorite. Hsieh defeated Sabalenka on clay at Rome in 2018 and last year on grass in Birmingham. 

Defeating the same opponent over and over again is tough to do in any sport, but it’s especially difficult in tennis. Sabalenka’s solid-footing on the hard court should help her finally get past Hsieh, who might be the trickiest opponent in the locker room. That, combined with Hsieh’s lack of singles match play, should push the No. 6 seed over the edge in her quest to hit the 34-year-old off the court. 

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