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Zhang Wins First WTA Title In Guangzhou

Zhang Shuai beat Vania King in straight sets to capture her first WTA title at the Guangzhou Open on Saturday. She is the fifth Chinese player ever to win a WTA title - who are the other four?

Published September 21, 2013 12:02

Zhang Wins First WTA Title In Guangzhou
Zhang Shuai

GUANGZHOU, China - Zhang Shuai squeaked out a tight first set then went on total cruise control in the second set to beat Vania King and win her first WTA title at the Guangzhou Open on Saturday.

Zhang, a wildcard into the draw, didn't drop a set all week and continued that pattern against King, a qualifier, winning an air-tight 65-minute first set on a tie-break then rolling through a 32-minute second set. The Chinese won 16 of the last 17 points of the match - and the last 13 - to finish it off, 76(1) 61.

"I'm not a person who often gets excited, but today I feel really happy," Zhang said after the match. "This is the biggest moment of my career. I look at this like a new starting point, not a final destination.

"I saw the tournament listed out the nine champions in their history on the giant promotional ads at center court. I saw them every day when I was going to the practice court, since the first day I got here. I asked myself, 'Could I be one of them? Could I be the 10th champion here?' At that time, I didn't think it was possible, but I've beaten some of those nine champions before, and that gave me a lot of confidence. I've had many chances to win WTA titles before, but I just wasn't confident enough.

"All those days, every time I passed by that big poster, I told myself I wanted to be the 10th champion at the Guangzhou Open. Having faith is so powerful - it can really make your dream come true."

Before this week, Zhang's best WTA result was a semifinal showing right here in 2010 - now she walks away with her first WTA title, becoming the fifth Chinese player ever to win a WTA title, after Li Na (who has seven WTA titles), Zheng Jie (who has four), Yan Zi and Sun Tiantian (who each have one).

King had perfected the art of the comeback throughout the week, coming back from 4-1 down in the third set of her last match in the qualifying (against Chan Yung-Jan), another 4-1 third set deficit in her second round match (against Bojana Jovanovski), a hefty 61 52 deficit in the quarterfinals (against Monica Puig) and, most recently, a 3-1 third set hole in her semifinal match (against Zheng Jie).

Maybe it was just too taxing in the end, though, as she couldn't muster up another one in the final. The American is now 1-1 in WTA finals, having won the now-discontinued event in Bangkok back in 2006.

The doubles title went to No.1 seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai, who held off No.3 seeds King and Galina Voskoboeva in the final, 63 46 1210. Hsieh and Peng needed six match points in the match tie-break to finish it off - they missed out on four from 9-5 and one at 10-9, but converted at 11-10.

Peng and Hsieh now have eight WTA doubles titles, one in 2008 (Bali), three in 2009 (Sydney, Rome and Beijing) and four in 2013 (Rome, Wimbledon, Cincinnati and Guangzhou). Even more impressive is the Taiwanese-Chinese pair hasn't lost in a final - they are 8-0 in WTA doubles finals together.

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