NANCHANG, China -- No.1 seed and top-ranked Chinese player Zhang Shuai moved into the Jiangxi Open quarterfinals for the first time in her career, as she eliminated Russia's Margarita Gasparyan, 6-4, 6-1 in the second round on Wednesday.
"It is my great physical endurance and self-motivated character that help me to win the game," Zhang told the press, after the match. "I keep adjusting my pace and using various skills to defeat my opponent."
Zhang ousted Gasparyan in 88 minutes in the first meeting between the two players, and fired 30 winners to 28 unforced errors in the match.
After a fast start to the tilt, Gasparyan faded down the stretch, although the former World No.41, still coming back after injury concerns, has to be heartened by a solid showing in her first Tour-level event of the year.
World No.32 Zhang will face compatriot Zhu Lin in the quarterfinals. Zhu defeated Czech Tereza Martincova in the second round earlier on Wednesday, 6-2, 6-3. "I will try to make progress in the next match," Zhang continued.
Gasparyan got off to a flying start, breaking Zhang in the opening game as the Russian’s backhand was on point early. The unseeded player then fended off three break points in her first service game to hold for 2-0. But Zhang started to find her game, powering service returns back at the Russian to break Gasparyan and get back on serve at 2-2.
That started a run of five consecutive breaks of serve, as both players mixed staggering well-placed winners with surprising unforced errors in equal measure. When the dust settled, Zhang finally stopped the streak by holding comfortably for 5-4.
Zhang then won a tight game, breaking for the one-set lead on her second set point when a forehand in the corner forced a long error from Gasparyan. Zhang’s aggressive play allowed her to finish the set with 17 winners and 17 unforced errors, while Gasparyan’s play dipped as the set progressed. The Russian ended the set with only four winners, compared to 13 miscues.
After the hard-fought opener, Zhang began to dominate early in the second set with her powerful groundstrokes which had the partisan crowd gasping with glee. Zhang obtained the first break of the set with a beautiful forehand winner down the line, jumping out to a 2-0 lead.
Gasparyan’s lack of recent match play at this level made it difficult for her to stay with the top seed, and the tall Russian dropped serve again in her next service game, this time at love, to give Zhang a 4-0 lead.
Zhang hit three consecutive winners en route to a quick hold for 5-0, but Gasparyan put together a strong game of her own to hold for 5-1 and avert the bagel. In the next game, Gasparyan blasted a forehand winner to erase one match point and send the game to deuce, but Zhang grasped a second match point, which was converted when the Russian netted a backhand error.