40 LOVE Moments: The Biggest Upset Ever
Published October 01, 2013 12:00
BEIJING, China - Going into the China Open in 2009, she was relatively unknown at the WTA level - a dozen titles on the ITF Circuit to her name, but 0-10 in WTA main draws. So when she beat then-World No.33 Iveta Benesova in the first round in front of her home crowd, it was already a breakthrough.
Little did anyone expect the historic feat Zhang Shuai was about to achieve in the next round.
Ranked No.226 in the world and a wildcard into the event, it seemed like as big a longshot as possible as Zhang took the court against then-World No.1 Dinara Safina, but after going down a break in both sets she kept battling back, even saving a set point in the second set en route to a 75 76(7) stunner.
For Zhang - whose record still stands, incidentally - her progress stalled somewhat the next few years, but she has truly burst back into prominence this fall. Ranked No.106 coming out of the US Open, she is now all the way up at No.66, having put together some incredible runs over the last few weeks, most notably her first WTA title in Guangzhou and another final at the WTA 125K Series event in Ningbo.
"People are expecting me to be Top 30, Top 10, even World No.1, but it takes time to reach this goal," Zhang, now 24, said. "Rome was not built in a day. I hope to bring my best performance every time I go on the court - that's my first goal. Every single match, every single day, I'm practicing my best.
"The results will come naturally."
But whatever other results come for Zhang, she still has the biggest upset ever - at least for now.