Peng Hopes For Another Chinese 1-2

Peng Shuai joined Li Na in the second week of the Australian Open. Could it happen again?

Published January 22, 2011 12:00

Peng Hopes For Another Chinese 1-2
Peng Shuai

MELBOURNE, Australia - Last year, Li Na and Zheng Jie caused a stir in Melbourne, both making it all the way to the semifinals of the Australian Open. With Zheng having to miss the tournament this year because of a wrist injury, few expected a Chinese 1-2 to happen here again - then came Peng Shuai.

On Saturday afternoon, Peng followed her second round upset of No.7 seed Jelena Jankovic with another hard-fought win, beating Japan's Ayumi Morita, 61 36 63, to reach her first Grand Slam second week - Li has also made her way there on the other half of the draw, making a repeat not too far-fetched...

"In the third set I fought hard and tried to hold my serve. It was really hot though, and my leg started cramping - but thank God, I got it," Peng commented afterwards. "Ayumi is a good player. She was also fighting. I just told myself to not think it was a Grand Slam - think like it was a $25,000 tournament."

Peng's good tournament could have been predicted after her impressive results in the lead-up tournaments - she was a semifinalist at both Auckland and Hobart. But things haven't always been so good for the 25-year-old.

"When I was 18 or 19 I had really good results, beating a lot of Top 10 players, but afterwards I had a tough decision. I almost stopped playing tennis. Now I'm just really happy to have had the same coach and a lot of people behind me, supporting me. I feel my team is really safe now. I believe in myself now.

"In China, a lot of people are watching tennis. It's improving a lot."

Peng had been to the third round at majors four times before, including the US Open last fall. But she was unable to take the court against Andrea Petkovic there because of a right elbow injury. The player she beat to get to that round, Agnieszka Radwanska, the No.12 seed here, will be her next opponent.

Radwanska leads the overall head-to-head against Peng, 2-1.

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