Hsieh's back and has Wang's back

 - Chris Oddo

The 37-year-old former world No.1 angling for more silverware a month after tour return

Hsieh Su-Wei, Wang Xinyu, Roland-Garros 2023, women's doubles© Julien Crosnier/FFT

After a self-imposed 18-month break from the tour, Hsieh Su-Wei is back with renewed vigour. The results, however, are very much like the first go-round for the talented shotmaker from Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei.

Alongside new partner Wang Xinyu of China, Hsieh has hit the ground running on the Parisian clay, reaching the semi-finals at Roland-Garros for the first time since she claimed the title alongside Peng Shuai in 2014.

With three victories over seeded pairs in the bag already, Hsieh and Wang are due to face sixth-seeded Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez in the women’s doubles semi-finals on Friday.

Hsieh, a four-time Grand Slam doubles champion and a former world No.1, has been playing loose and free in her first Grand Slam appearance since starting her comeback in Madrid in early May. 

Hsieh Su-Wei, Wang Xinyu, Roland-Garros 2023, women's doubles© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

“I’m the person who likes to enjoy, so I have not been feeling so much pressure, this whole tournament I was quite relaxed,” she told rolandgarros.com

Playing with 21-year-old Wang has given Hsieh a chance to kick back and let her partner do all the work - or so she says.

“I know anything can happen so I just try to enjoy and push my partner to do everything on the court,” she joked. “You know when you play with a younger player, the good thing is that you can tell them: RUN!” 

Wang, ranked No.80 in singles and 105 in doubles, gives a side-eye glance at that last comment. 

“Actually she takes everything,” Wang said. “When we are hitting baseline, I say ‘Me, me, me!’’ and she’s hitting it already.” 

Lessons from the master

On a more serious note, the opportunity to play with a decorated doubles standout like Hsieh has given Wang a chance to learn the craft alongside one of the best. It means a lot to the rising talent from Shenzhen. 

“When I found out she was asking me to play doubles I was actually a little bit nervous," Wang told rolandgarros.com.

Wang and Hsieh met by chance in Rome, and quickly struck up a connection. 

“I was just walking by the gym,” said Hsieh, who wasn’t even sure at that point that she was going to play in Paris. “She was doing her exercises. I said my protected ranking is top 5, you should think of me. She asked her coach, and we decided very quickly and we set it up in two minutes.” 

Hsieh Su-Wei, Wang Xinyu, Roland-Garros 2023, women's doubles© Remy Chautard/FFT

Wang is making her third Grand Slam doubles appearance but had never been beyond the second round before. 

The 21-year-old says that Hsieh has helped her cultivate a better understanding of the the doubles discipline.

“I played a few doubles matches before, but it was more kind of practice for your singles – no strategy,” she said. “So it’s the first time for me – she will give you some tips on court, about which side to cover, where to position myself – for me, it’s all new, and I’m really excited.” 

Enjoyment first

For 37-year-old Hsieh, her run to the semis is made even more special by the fact that she had zero expectations before the tournament began. She came to Paris first and foremost to have fun. 

“It’s special,” she said. “I was not expecting to go so far, but I have just been having fun and enjoying myself.” 

With her talented sidekick toiling on the baseline, Hsieh is happy to see ball, hit ball, and let the chips fall where they may. 

“I decide last moment when I see the ball – it’s fun,” she says. “You know when sometimes you don’t have a plan you can just feel free to hit the balls. I don’t want to overthink and I like the way I play on the court.” 

Wang, meanwhile, is more than happy to let Su-Wei be Su-Wei. 

“I think we work together well and we support each other on court well,” she says. “That’s fun for me, to always have someone who is carrying you and who has your back.”