27-year-old Zhang Shuai had to win three matches just to qualify for the 2016 Australian Open. A player who had never won a Grand Slam main draw match in 14 previous attempts, Zhang drew the highest-ranked opponent possible in No.2 seed Simona Halep. What Zhang saw as an ending became a new beginning.
"The last few months my ranking was down to No.200, so it was very tough. I was feeling very sad every day. I almost retired.
"But so many people helped me: my coach, my parents, my team, also the national team. My sponsor, too, always tried to help me, and give me more motivation."
Zhang blasted past Halep for one of the biggest wins of her career - after upsetting then World No.1 Dinara Safina at the China Open in 2009 - and won three more matches to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, losing a close match to Johanna Konta.
"In my heart I'm feel like I already win the tournament because I won seven match. Yeah, it doesn't matter if I won or lost today. I'll just keep going."
Final Results for January's WTA Breakthrough Performance Of The Month
How it works:
Finalists are selected by wtatennis.com
Winner is then determined by a fan vote on wtatennis.com