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Zheng Conquers World No.1

Zheng Jie upset Dinara Safina in a nail-biter as the round of 16 took the courts Thursday.

Published August 06, 2009 11:59

Zheng Conquers World No.1
Zheng Jie

LOS ANGELES, CA, USA - In Rome earlier this year, Zheng Jie nearly earned her second win over a reigning world No.1, leading Dinara Safina 5-2 in the third set before the Russian roared back to win. The drama was the same but the ending was much different at the LA Women's Tennis Championships on Thursday, as the Chinese upended the world No.1 in a nail-biter under the lights.

Zheng, seeded No.14, almost seemed headed for a two set win, building a 75 31 lead. Like she has done so many times before, Safina fought back, winning nine of the next 12 games to take the second set and lead 4-2 in the third; but Zheng wasn't down or out, and she stormed through four games in a row of her own - losing just two points in the process - to seal the deal, 75 46 64.

"It's amazing for me, because I lost to her all four times we had played," en elated Zheng said. "I just tried my best. You could tell I was 110% on every point. I tried to be aggressive. I tried to attack her forehand and get her moving. Before the start of the match I knew it would be tough, and I'm so happy I won."

"I don't know what happened in the first set, but I started to play much better in the second set. In the third set, I just didn't use my opportunities," Safina said. "It's disappointing for me, but she's a good player. It's tough to play her. She took her chances and beat me. In this match, I didn't do the right things."

Zheng became the first Chinese ever to beat a reigning No.1 at Wimbledon last year, taking out Ana Ivanovic. She now has four Top 10 wins to her name.

The other Top 8 seeds had mixed results. Vera Zvonareva and Agnieszka Radwanska both won, the No.2-seeded Zvonareva beating Yanina Wickmayer, 76(5) 46 64, and the No.8-seeded Radwanska rolling past Anna Chakvetadze, 63 62; No.5 seed Nadia Petrova was ousted by No.10 seed Flavia Pennetta, 63 63, and No.6 seed Ivanovic lost to No.13 seed Samantha Stosur, 63 62.

"Anytime you play someone you lost to recently, it's a benchmark to test yourself," said Stosur, who lost to Ivanovic last month at Wimbledon. "As the match went on, I felt better and better. Early in the year, I had some good wins and some close losses. Matches like this keep your confidence up."

"I feel all I need is a few more matches and a little more competition. It's tough because I feel I just can't match the level of performance I want," Ivanovic said. "After Wimbledon I had some injuries and took three weeks off. I started off slowly. I want to enjoy myself and I feel it is important to be fresh and hungry again. Now I'm feeling excited to work again and I feel positive about things."

In other matches, Urszula Radwanska got a walkover from No.12 seed Li Na due to a right knee injury; Sorana Cirstea won by retirement when No.17 seed Sabine Lisicki suffered a right shoulder injury trailing 63 10; and Maria Sharapova got past Alona Bondarenko, 46 60 63.

"It was good to get revenge," said Sharapova, who had lost to Bondarenko in the first event of her 2009 comeback, at Warsaw in May. "It's tough playing players that play the majority of the season. My last two opponents have been some of the most physically fit girls on the Tour. It gives me confidence I can step it up when I need to, especially after losing to her a few months ago."

Friday's quarterfinals will see Zvonareva play Pennetta, Agnieszka Radwanska play Cirstea, Stosur play Zheng and Sharapova play Urszula Radwanska.

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