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Osaka vs Hsieh tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Osaka avoid a repeat of her early Miami defeat to Hsieh in Stuttgart?

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 24 Apr 2019
  • Naomi Osaka faces Su-Wei Hsieh in the second round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix
  • Osaka vs Hsieh is live from Stuttgart on Thursday at 1.30pm local/12.30pm BST
Naomi Osaka (PA Sport)

Su-Wei Hsieh is developing into a nightmare opponent for Naomi Osaka – can the world no. 1 avoid another early exit from a big tournament as she faces Hsieh in Stuttgart?

World no. 1 Naomi Osaka faces a tough opener at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix as she takes on Su-Wei Hsieh, who beat her at the Miami Open, on Thursday.

Osaka can secure her place at the top of the rankings for a couple more weeks by winning her second-round clash with Hsieh, but otherwise will be vulnerable to being displaced by Petra Kvitova should the Czech win the Stuttgart title. Given that that’s quite an unlikely eventuality, even Osaka admits she ‘dodged a bullet’ when world no. 2 Simona Halep pulled out of Stuttgart due to injury.

Naomi Osaka talks to the press in Stuttgart (PA Sport)
The top seed will be thinking about herself, though, and her desire to get her clay-court season off to a winning start – something she’s never before succeeded in doing at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, where she has never won a main-draw match, although she successfully qualified in 2017 before losing to Johanna Konta in three sets.

Clay-court tennis in general has never been Osaka’s bag, although that’s not because she doesn’t like it so much as because she has little experience on it. She has played just 43 pro matches on clay, over a period of seven years. With the exception of reaching the third round at the French Open in 2016 and 2018, she has never won back-to-back matches on European clay.

‘I can't go into a tournament thinking that I just want to coast it out, but at the same time I don't want to overhype myself and say I'm going to win this tournament because there are a lot of clay experts and I'm not one of them,’ Osaka said in Stuttgart.

‘Every other court or [surface] I have more experience than I have on clay because honestly, every time I come here I get injured. I'm hoping that won't happen this year, but the last two times it's been rough. Every clay season I missed out on at least one tournament, so honestly, my main goal is to not get injured and just ride it up until French Open.’

Osaka doesn’t have a lot of recent form to draw on; since winning the Australian Open in such superb style, she is just 3-3. But she can certainly play on clay, with her power game translating well to any surface.

‘I always thought even though I lost in the third round consistently at the French Open, I always played good players and they always went far. I do think I have chances. It's just knowing what shot to hit at a specific moment is real important for me,’ Osaka said.

Su-Wei Hsieh (PA Sport)
The bad news for the Japanese-Haitian player is that her sense of what shot to hit at a specific moment was precisely what she lost, along with the match, when she last faced Su-Wei Hsieh.

Veteran Hsieh is currently just one place off her career-high ranking of world no. 23, first achieved in 2013 before languishing outside the top 100, then in the lower reaches of it, for a couple of seasons. The 33-year-old has been playing some of the best tennis of her entire career over the past 18 months, however, making the round of 16 at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2018 as well as winning her first title for six years in Hiroshima and reaching additional WTA Tour semifinals in Auckland, Rabat, Seoul and Tianjin.

Hsieh also made herself the bane of the top players in 2018 and that trend has continued in 2019, going 5-5 against top-10 players in 2018-19. Garbine Muguruza at the Australian Open and Simona Halep at Wimbledon were among her 2018 victims; so far in 2019, Hsieh has beaten Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber back-to-back on her way to the Dubai semifinals, as well as Osaka herself en route to a Miami Open quarterfinal. Hsieh has also made the Auckland semifinals and the third round of the Australian Open, compiling a 15-8 win-loss record and taking out Wang Qiang in the first round in Stuttgart.

This will be the third match between Osaka and Hsieh, and the second in 2019 (the first came in 2015, so long ago it doesn’t seem too relevant). Osaka came back from a set down at the Australian Open, but in Miami, she lost from a set up, letting a break lead slip in both sets (serving for the match) in the second, ultimately losing 6-4, 6-7(4), 3-6. Osaka said she was ‘emotional’, ‘immature’ and ‘thinking too much in the match; I thought she didn’t serve well, made too many errors and above all allowed herself to be frustrated by Hsieh’s incredible, unorthodox shotmaking, which was at its unpredictable best for the last set and a half.

Can Osaka avoid a similar fate on Thursday? Yes – she just needs to serve well, be patient and play her first-strike tennis with reasonable efficiency and accuracy. But that seems like quite a big ask for a player who is playing her first match on clay, is under big pressure in terms of her ranking and has little recent form to draw on. Hsieh appears to be poised to make herself into quite the recurring nightmare for Osaka, and I can fully see her upsetting the top seed in Stuttgart on Thursday.

Osaka vs Hsieh Porsche Tennis Grand Prix tennis is live from Stuttgart on Thursday at 1.30pm local/12,30pm BST

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Osaka vs Hsieh tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Osaka avoid a repeat of her early Miami defeat to Hsieh in Stuttgart?

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