China's Zheng draws on Li Na advice to make Australian Open last eight

Zheng is taking inspiration from Li's win in the 2014 Australian Open final

By AFP

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China's Zheng Qinwen celebrates her victory against France''s Oceane Dodin. — AFP
China's Zheng Qinwen celebrates her victory against France''s Oceane Dodin. — AFP

Published: Mon 22 Jan 2024, 4:09 PM

Zheng Qinwen drew on advice from Chinese great Li Na to match her exploits at the US Open last year by storming into the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time on Monday.

The 12th seed, known to her fans as "Queen Wen", was on another level to the unseeded Oceane Dodin, routing the Frenchwoman 6-0, 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena in under an hour.

It set up a clash next another unseeded player, Russia's Anna Kalinskaya, with a new face guaranteed to be in the Melbourne Park semifinals.

The match was shown in prime time in China and Zheng, just 21, said she was trying not to left the pressure get to her.

"At the beginning I was feeling like this is a responsibility, sometimes pressure. But right now, I am just trying to focus on myself, playing day by day, don't think too much," she said.

"Of course I am really happy that I have a lot of fans that come to support me here, also in front of the TV, whether in China or all over the world."

China's brightest young tennis star has raced through the rankings to reach world number 15 and is looking to build on a breakthrough 2023.

She won her first WTA title at Palermo and followed it up with a second in Zhengzhou at the back end of the season, while making the last eight at the US Open and winning an Asian Games gold medal.

Zheng is taking inspiration from Li's win in the 2014 Australian Open final.

Her idol is back in Melbourne this week and met Zheng after her third-round match -- the first time they have spoken in person.

"Obviously, second time (in a Grand Slam last eight) I have more experience, I'm just trying to tell myself to focus on the moment.

"Li Na gave me advice to 'just play, don't think too much'".


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