Defending champion Hsieh halts Hon in Hiroshima tussle

HIROSHIMA, Japan — No.1 seed and defending champion Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei needed to use all of her wiles to overcome a stern test from Priscilla Hon of Australia on Wednesday and move into the Hana-Cupid Japan Women’s Open quarterfinals with a 1-6, 7-6(2), 7-5 win.

Hon served for the match twice in the second set and once more in the third set, but World No.29 Hsieh staved off those chances each time to grind out a victory after two hours and ten minutes of topsy-turvy action and deny World No.123 Hon her first WTA quarterfinal of the season.

“In the first set, [Hon] was hitting so well, and I had no rhythm,” Hsieh said, following the match. “I just couldn’t get my game and style going. It was not a good situation for me! But the next two sets I got going.”

33-year-old Hsieh, who also had a three-set tussle in her opening round, shook off a commanding first set by Hon and finished the match with a 73 percent success rate on Hon’s second serve. Hon had 49 winners to Hsieh’s 26, but the Australian ended the encounter with 55 unforced errors to Hsieh’s 29.

Top seed Hsieh will meet Nao Hibino of Japan in the elite eight. Hibino advanced earlier on Wednesday when her opponent, 2017 champion and No.6 seed Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan, retired from their match while trailing, 6-1, 3-2, due to a lower back injury.

“I’m not thinking about that too much right now, but [Hibino is] a good player,” Hsieh stated. “I need to recover, eat good, sleep good, prevent injuries – that’s the best way to prepare. I am slowly picking up my game this week, so let’s hope it gets going again for the match.”