NEW YORK -- Zheng Qinwen, Zhang Shuai, Wang Xiyu and qualifier Yuan Yue have advanced to the third round at the US Open, marking the first time in the Open Era that four Chinese women have advanced to the third round of a Slam.
"So it's like five," Zheng said, referring to Wu Yibing, who became the first Chinese man to ever advance to the third round of a Slam.
"I think this is so positive. In China, the tennis starts to go up. I think between each other we have good competition between each other. When you have someone to compete [with], you always can [perform] better. I think with this energy, I hope all of us, we can go as far as we can."
4 - Four Chinese female players (Qinwen Zheng, Yue Yuan, Xiyu Wang and Shuai Zhang) have reached the Round of 32 in a single Grand Slam tournament for first time in the Open Era. Group.@WTA @WTA_insider #USOpen #USOpen2022 pic.twitter.com/0iMp669Ku2— OptaAce (@OptaAce) September 1, 2022
At 19, the 39th-ranked Zheng has continued to build a solid resume that points in the direction of a major breakthrough. She is into her third consecutive Slam third round after beating Jelena Ostapenko in the first round and Anastasia Potapova in the second.
It's worth pointing out that the champions of the past two majors, Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros and Elena Rybakina at Wimbledon, had to go through Zheng. Each time, the powerful teen took them the distance. She's already notched marquee wins against Simona Halep on clay at Roland Garros and Bianca Andreescu and Ons Jabeur in Toronto. At Wimbledon, Zheng rued a missed opportunity against Rybakina to go up a late break and beat the eventual champion.
"When she won the championship, always I congratulate her, for sure, because she deserved that," Zheng said in Toronto. "But it's like, I should get this match. And it's me, I give this championship to her.
"And yes, I know it's not good to say this, but I was really, really pissed about myself for that match."
Swiatek once again looms as a potential roadblock for Zheng, who could face the World No.1 in the fourth round. But first she'll ready for Germany's Jule Niemeier.
Yuan is the newcomer of the group, and by her reaction to making her first third round said it all. She put her business studies at university in Shanghai on hold to focus on tennis, and at 23, she is ranked No.143. Yuan worked her way through qualifying to make her first Slam main draw and has defeated Jamiee Fourlis and Irina-Camelia Begu without losing a set.
"Actually, I [feel] I'm not ready to play in the third round of a Grand Slam," Yuan said. "Before this tournament I played an ITF 60K and I lost in the first round of the main draw. So I'm kind of confused. It just happened."
Yuan said it was her recent practices with the likes of Wang Xiyu and Wang Qiang that gave her more belief in her quality.
"I saw a lot of players they can do really well so I tried to learn from them," Yuan said. "Sometimes I practice with them and I think sometimes I don't think I play really bad."
"Sometimes I practice with some Chinese players, like Zhu Lin, Wang Qiang, Wang Xiyu. They are all really good players, Top 100. Wang Qiang was Top 12. They helped me a lot.
"Before, I did not have clothes for Wimbledon and Wang Qiang helped me. She has a lot of clothes from her sponsor and her coach said if you don't need so many, I can give it to people who need it. And I said, 'I need it!'"
For No.75 Wang, New York is where she's found her best tennis once again. A former junior No.1 and girls' champion in 2018, the 21-year-old left-hander stunned No.3 Maria Sakkari to make her first third round at a Slam. She'll next face No.29 seed Alison Riske-Amritraj.
No.36 Zhang is the veteran of the group. The 33-year-old from Tianjin is enjoying one of the best seasons of her career. Just two weeks ago in Cincinnati, Zhang ousted Naomi Osaka and Anett Kontaveit to make her first WTA 1000 quarterfinal in four years.
With wins against No.30 seed Jil Teichmann and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, she'll face Canada's Rebecca Marino for a spot in the second week.
"I'm so proud that I can be a part of this team," Yuan said. "I think for our Chinese players, Covid was very difficult. It was hard to travel. But we grow stronger. Sometimes the difficult things make you stronger."