Zheng Qinwen continued to soar in her breakthrough season, knocking out No.1 seed Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-2 in 78 minutes in the second round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open.
The result is the Chinese 19-year-old's first completed Top 10 win. Previously, she had advanced over Ons Jabeur via retirement in the second round of Toronto. It puts Zheng into her third tour-level quarterfinal of 2022, and second at WTA 500 level or above.
"It was a big match for me," said Zheng. "Even though the score was like this, there were a lot of emotions for me in this match and I'm very proud of myself. It's not a surprise - I always knew I had the level, I just had to make it."
Zheng's overall record this year is now 34-15, and 19-15 at tour level. Having ended 2021 at No.143, she has risen to a career-high this week of No.36. She also came into this match in supreme form after a 6-1, 6-4 first-round defeat of Misaki Doi that had seen her win 19 points in a row.
If anything, the scoreline against Badosa does not do justice to Zheng's level of dominance. The teenager was initially slow to find the range on her forehand, and fell behind an early break.
But once she had settled, Zheng was imperious. From 3-1 down in the first set, she reeled off the next seven games, and 11 of the next 13. She did not face another break point in the match; in total, she tallied seven aces and won 82% of the points behind her first serve.
Zheng also repeatedly teed off on the Badosa serve, blitzing three clean return winners in one game to break the Spaniard at the start of the second set. She was clutch in important moments, too, winning three consecutive games from 30-30 to turn the first set around, and fired 18 winners overall.
Though extended exchanges were few and far between, such was the quality of Zheng's first strikes, she was also able to outlast the World No.4 in athletic longer rallies as well. Zheng proved adept at soaking up her opponent's pace; unable to find a way through, Badosa ended up with 20 unforced errors to only six winners.
Highlights: Liu d. Mertens
Zheng will next face Claire Liu, who scored a second straight Top 50 upset to take out Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-1. Both Zheng and Liu will be bidding for their first WTA 500 semifinal.