Women’s top seed Simona Halep suffered a tortuous third round exit to Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei as a wildly unpredictable Wimbledon continued producing huge shocks on Saturday.
The Romanian world number one never got to grips with the 32-year-old Hsieh on a baking Court One and lost the last four games as her opponent battled back from 3-5 in the decider.
Defeat for the French Open champion means only one of the top 10 seeds in the women’s singles have reached the last-16 — Czech seventh seed Karolina Pliskova.
She is the first women’s top seed to lose to an unseeded player at Wimbledon since Ana Ivanovic lost to China’s Zheng Jie 10 years ago, also just after winning the French Open.
Hsieh thoroughly deserved her win as she booked a last-16 clash with Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova.
“This is the first time I have beaten the world number one, it is amazing,” she said.
“I had to run and fight for every point. I tried to concentrate on my game and calm down a bit, that helped a lot. This year I have tried to enjoy more, not just tennis but life, food, strawberries and cream, lobster.
“I am really enjoying playing tennis.”
The crowd enjoyed it too. In a sport often dominated by baseline bashers Hsieh brought so much more to the party.
Cunning drop shots, often played with two hands on the racket, delicate slices and laser-like flat groundstrokes that hugged the turf kept Halep continually off balance.
Halep did not play a bad match but simply ran out of ideas at the end of an absorbing two-hour-20-minute duel full of spellbinding rallies and shots not found in coaching manuals.
When Halep led 4-1 and 5-3 in the final set it looked as though she would live to fight another day but Hsieh broke back and repeated the trick at 5-5 when she landed a sweetly-timed backhand into the corner and Halep could only net.
Hsieh’s serve is hardly a weapon — her second serves often crawling over the net — but she battled back from 15-40 in the final game to deuce and then closed it out as a weary-looking Halep dumped consecutive forehands into the net.
It was only the third time Hsieh had beaten a player ranked in the top 10 although she tamed Spain’s Garbine Muguruza at this year’s Australian Open where she also enjoyed a memorable run to the last 16.
Young hopefuls Ostapenko, Kasatkina carry flag for seeds
East European 21-year-olds Jelena Ostapenko and Daria Kasatkina carried the flag for the Wimbledon seeds with straight-set victories on Court Three that took them through to the fourth round on Saturday.
Twelfth seed Ostapenko, already a Grand Slam winner at the French Open in 2017 but who was upset in the opening round as holder at Roland Garros this year, beat Russian Vitalia Diatchenko 6-0 6-4 to stay on course to better her quarter-final place last year.
Kasatkina, the number 14 who reached the French Open quarter-finals, won a tighter battle between seeds when she overcame Australian Ashleigh Barty (17) 7-5 6-3 for her best performance so far at Wimbledon.
The draw opened up for these young pretenders when only two of the top eight women’s seeds reached the third round, a record in the Open era.