(January 23, 2010) Jie Zheng had spent the first week of this Australian Open playing catch up, but today she crossed the finish line first.
Zheng made history as the first Chinese player to reach the tournament quarterfinals with a 7-6(5), 6-4 conquest of Alona Bondarenko.
The 35th-ranked Zheng converted six of seven break points in avenging a 7-5, 7-5 loss to Bondarenko in Hobart last week. In today's rematch, Zheng was determined to take the first strike in rallies.
The 2006 Australian Open doubles champion connected on 80 percent of her first serves and produced twice as many winners (18 to 9) as the 31st-seeded Bondarenko.
"I think my body and mind is ready today for tough match. Because I know (she) is a very tough player because she just win the last week Hobart," Zheng said. "I tried keep fighting to force it, so I'm happy for today I do the will."
The victory propels Zheng into a quarterfinal match against either second-seeded Dinara Safina or Maria Kirilenko, who upset 2008 champion Maria Sharapovain the opening round.
China could have two quarterfinalists if 16th-seeded Na Li defeats fourth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in her fourth-round match.
While Chinese women have captured two Australian Open doubles titles in recent years, the men have yet to make their mark in major tennis. Zheng offered a straight-forward explanation for the Chinese men's results Down Under.
"Maybe men need (to be) more hard working. I don't know," Zheng said with a smile.