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Zhang: This Woman Hits Toughest Ball in Tennis

Grand Slam doubles champion Zhang Shuai is comfortable from all areas of the court—and has faced champions who excel making opponents uncomfortable.

Today, the 44th-ranked Zhang played with precision defeating former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka 6-4, 7-5 in her Cincinnati opener.

More: Zhang Topples Osaka

Zhang has beaten the best of the best—she's 3-3 lifetime against Osaka—and knows the most dangerous women on the WTA Tour.

Asked who hits the toughest ball in women's tennis, Zhang's response may surprise you.

Camila Giorgi.

The world No. 2 doubles player says Giorgi is one of the purest ball strikers and hardest hitters she's ever faced.

"I mean, when I play with Camila Giorgi, we play first round French Open, oh, my God [she hits] so fast," Zhang told the media in Cincinnati today. "But sometimes after match we say, We have to practice together. Because we are always same time, like 7:30 something on court.

"She like really [to practice] early. Me too. I like really early. Also, she always play with some guys. When we were in Lyon, yeah, any tournament, always, 7:30 or before 8:00, we both already on court." 

The 2021 Montreal champion Giorgi is not only an early riser, her skill straddling the baseline and taking the ball early, combined with her clean compact strokes, make her an explosive threat, Zhang said.

"[Camila Giorgi] can make me improve the faster ball," Zhang said. "So strong. Yeah, but I like to watch her play. Oh. So clean. Yeah, I hit every day three hours for one match, you know. I'm not young anymore."

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve