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Getting To Know... Zheng Saisai

Chinese tennis is on the up at present and Zheng Saisai is hoping to ride the crest of this wave.

Published November 28, 2013 12:03

Getting To Know... Zheng Saisai
Zheng Saisai

As Asia's first Grand Slam singles champion and resident Chinese No.1, Li Na's shadow looms large over tennis in her homeland.

But while it is Li's face that adorns the billboards and fronts the Nike advertising campaigns, she is not solely responsible for putting Chinese tennis on the map. At present the country has seven players in the Top 200 in both singles and doubles, and this year hosted three WTA tournaments and three more on the WTA 125K Series calendar.

Among Li's supporting cast is Zheng Saisai. In January, Zheng announced herself to the tennis world with a run to the semifinals of the Australian Open doubles competition alongside Varvara Lepchenko. Since then, the 19-year-old has continued to climb the ranks in both doubles and singles, thanks to a string of impressive showings.

Next stop Down Under, but before then she took 15 minutes out of her pre-season training to catch up with wtatennis.com.

When did you start playing tennis?
ZS:
It was in the summer holidays from school when I was about eight or nine. Both my parents were working and so no-one could take care of me in the day. There was a tennis academy across the street from where my mother worked and so I started going there and enjoyed it straight away.

Can you tell up a little about your current coaching setup?
ZS:
I have a coaching team and the head coach is Alan Ma. We met in Guangzhou when I started to play junior tennis and have been together now for about three and a half years.

How would you describe your style of play?
ZS:
I like to mix up my play with slice and drop shots. I think the drop shot is my favorite shot.

Who was your favorite player when you were younger?
ZS:
Justine Henin. I liked the way she played and the way she was always fighting on court. I've seen her at Grand Slams a few times but never talked to her yet!

What is the highlight of your career so far?
ZS:
Winning a gold medal in doubles and silver medal in singles at the Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010.

What are your goals in tennis?
ZS:
I want to reach the Top 30 in singles and win a Grand Slam in doubles.

Do you have a favorite tournament?
ZS:
It is hard to say. I really like the Australian Open and Wimbledon a lot. I like Wimbledon because of the history of the tournament and also because it feels so great to play on grass. The Australian Open is nice for me as I love the color blue and everything in Melbourne is blue!

How far did you go in your studies?
ZS:
I'm still in University at the moment, studying International Relations. I do most of my studies while I'm travelling and it's not easy because I'm doing it by myself and I'm often tired after practice or matches.

What do you like to do for fun?
ZS:
I like to read books and also to watch movies. I prefer American movies - the last one I saw was Thor and I liked that.

If you could describe yourself in one work, what would it be?
ZS:
Optimistic.

If you could meet one person, who would it be?
ZS:
There are so many! Maybe Jackie Chan or Katy Perry.

If you hadn't been a tennis player what career path would you have chosen?
ZS:
A teacher, maybe. I'm not sure, though, as I haven't really thought about it for too long before now!

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