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Chinese Watch: Zhang Unchained

Li Na and Peng Shuai's phenomenal weeks in Istanbul, Zhang Shuai's fall breakout, the Tennis Festivals, the best of Weibo - catch up on it all in the latest edition of Chinese Watch on wtatennis.com.

Published November 19, 2013 12:01

There's always a lot happening in the world of women's tennis in China - on the court, off the court, Weibo accounts of the Chinese players... catch up on it all in the latest instalment of Chinese Watch!

Li Na Shines In Istanbul
"I really want to be Top 3 or win another Grand Slam," she said. "Me and my whole team will work so hard to reach it." Ten months ago, Li Na was asked about her goals for 2013 and she finally made it at the last tournament of the year. With consecutive victories over Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova, Li not only reached her first TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships final, but also secured a rise to No.3 in the world, making her the highest-ranked Asian player in tennis history. She couldn't make another step forward though - in the first all-thirtysomething final at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, Li won the first set but eventually lost to Serena Williams, 26 63 60.

"I'm very happy with what I achieved this year," Li said afterwards. "The whole team tried to do what we said we would try to do, and we finally made it. It's a pretty good ending for 2013!"

Hsieh & Peng Make History
Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai had a historical WTA Championships, as their defeat of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina made them the first Asian duo to capture the season finale. Hsieh and Peng won their ninth WTA doubles title together and are now 9-0 in WTA doubles finals as a team. They have won all level WTA doubles title together - Grand Slam (2013 Wimbledon), TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships (2013), Premier Mandatory (2009 Beijing), Premier 5 (2009 Rome, 2013 Rome and Cincinnati), Premier (2009 Sydney) and finally International (2008 Bali and 2013 Guangzhou).

"We really enjoyed playing together this year," Peng said. "We had a really good time together on the court - we fought sometimes, but it was still a lot of great memories, just the whole experience!"

Zhang Shuai Unchained
Outside the Top 100 for almost two years, and without too many great results in the first half season, no one imagined Zhang Shuai would have a breakthrough fall. After the US Open Zhang totally turned the tables on the tour, winning 19 of 24 matches, a stretch that included her maiden WTA title at Guangzhou and her first WTA 125K Series title in Nanjing. Zhang became the fifth Chinese player ever to win a WTA title after Li Na, Zheng Jie, Yan Zi and Sun Tiantian - now she's almost Top 50.

"My confidence has boosted tremendously and my ranking has increased." Zhang said after her breakthrough fall. "My performance is getting better and better, and my next goal is to be Top 50.

"We all remember my victory over World No.1 Dinara Safina at the 2009 China Open - that was a very good memory, but it's history already. I'm trying to impress people with better performances now."

Tennis Festivals In China
The fifth edition of the WTA Tennis Festivals took place in Guangzhou, Ningbo and Beijing before each event started, providing Chinese tennis fans an opportunity to participate and learn about the sport.

This six day grassroots road show feature attracted more than 84,000 fans to come and enjoy tennis. WTA players also joined in the festival to greet and interact with the fans, among whom were Sabine Lisicki, Laura Robson, Sorana Cirstea, Zhang Yuxuan and new Guangzhou Champion Zhang Shuai.

Weibo Of The Month
@Li Na
I'm happy to be announced as a Global Athlete Ambassador for Right To Play, I want to help make sure children who are suffering from poverty and diseases are given every opportunity to have fun and learn through play.

@Peng Shuai
Live the life like a dandelion, pursue our dream freely.
Peng Shuai

@Zheng Jie
It's my honor to attend the USANA Convention in Nanjing!
Zheng Jie

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