OSAKA, Japan - In a recent interview, Zheng Jie claimed that her will to win is the greatest weapon she brings to the tennis court. And at the HP Open on Tuesday, this character trait was clear for all to see as Zheng staged the most miraculous of comebacks to defeat María José Martínez Sánchez.
Trailing by a set and 5-2, Zheng, the No.2 seed in Osaka, appeared on the verge of becoming the tournament's first major casualty. Zheng, though, had other ideas, reeling off 20 of the next 26 points to take the set and turn the match on its head.
Zheng made the first move in the decider, breaking serve in a marathon opening game, and despite surrendering this early initiative, she struck again at 4-4 before serving out a 46 75 64 win.
While Zheng's mid-match revival saw her live to fight another day, No.4 seed Francesca Schiavone and No.5 Yaroslava Shvedova were not so lucky; Shvedova losing to 2010 champion Tamarine Tanasugarn, 63 62, while a wrist injury forced Schiavone to retire mid-way through her match with Olga Puchkova.
However, three seeds who will be joining Zheng in the second round are Anabel Medina Garrigues, Chanelle Scheepers and Laura Robson, who saw off Camila Giorgi, Alexa Glatch and Eleni Daniilidou, respectively.
For Robson, who triumphed 64 62, it was the 11th win in her past 14 matches, a run that has taken her to within touching distance of a Top 50 debut.
"She's always a tough person to play against and I thought she played really well today," Robson said. "I was ready to play a tough match and she competed really well.
"Maybe I could have played a bit better at some points but I'm happy to get the win. I think this is going to be my last tournament of the year so hopefully I can have a good week and make it into the Top 50."