Thursday January 17, 2013
Zheng Jie and Li Na make it a smashing day for China
CHINA’S Zheng Jie upset home favourite Samantha Stosur to join Li Na in the third round yesterday, as Japanese star Kei Nishikori flew the flag for Asia’s men.
Zheng Jie showed grit as she fought back from a losing position in the final set on Rod Laver Arena, reeling off five games in a row against the panicking ninth seed to take it 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
Afterwards Zheng Jie, who reached the semi-finals in 2010 and is a two-time Grand Slam doubles champion, revealed that tenacity had been drummed into her from a young age.
“I know I’m not tall, I’m not strong. My coaches told me, ‘If you want to go far, you need to keep fighting for every ball and focus for every point,” she said. “So, yeah, this is my game.”
Li Na, the 2011 French Open champion and Australian Open runner-up, also faced difficult moments in her 6-2, 7-5 win against Olga Govortsova of Belarus before booking her place in the next round.
“She started the second set much better so I’m just happy to win,” said Li Na, adding that she was confident of adding to her solitary Grand Slam title in 2011. “Australia for me – I really believe I can win this Grand Slam.”
With Peng Shuai’s win on Tuesday, three Chinese women are into the third round in Melbourne, in positive signs for the country which will host five WTA tournaments next year.
Nishikori, a men’s quarter-finalist last year, also made it to round three as he came through a first set tie-break and then surged home in straight sets against Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq.
“I feel so comfortable playing here, you know, playing last year with a lot of support. You know, it’s one of the best Grand Slams for me to play, I think,” said Nishikori, who drew an enthusiastic crowd of fans.
“It’s the Asian Grand Slam, and like you see today, I had a lot of support, and that makes me play better. Yeah, I love it.”
The Japanese star had a battle in a 69-minute opening set but once he got the initial edge he proceeded to take charge, and grabbed three service breaks in the second set and another two in the final set to win easily.
“I’m happy to win the first two matches and I have been playing great, so hopefully I can go as far as last year’s quarter-final,” Nishikori said. “That’s my goal for this year or hopefully I can go further.”
However, there was disappointment for Japan’s Tatsuma Ito, who went out in four sets to 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis.
Taiwanese qualifier Chan Yung-jan also went out to former women’s world number one Ana Ivanovic, failing in her bid to join compatriot Hsieh Su-wei in the round of 32. — AFP