PARIS -- Fresh off her Top 20 debut, China's Zheng Qinwen spoke like a veteran when she was asked to break down her 6-3, 6-1 win over Tamara Zidansek in the first round at Roland Garros.
Long story short, the 20-year-old kept things solid and let her Zidansek, herself a semifinalist at Roland Garros just two years ago, implode.
"The opponent was playing not so consistently," Zheng told reporters. "On some of the balls I have to be more aggressive, but today my tactic was to be more solid. After 2-2, she made [many] mistakes and I was more consistent than her. That's how I won the first set. Not doing too much.
"I didn't play 100% my best level. I was just doing like what I have to do today to win the match."
It was a cool and mature perspective for the rising Chinese star, who is now 6-0 in the first round of Slams in her career. Her first-round press conference included eight journalists from China, the largest national-language contingent she's seen in a press conference in her career.
Last year at Roland Garros she posted her best result at a Slam, advancing to the Round of 16 and taking a set off eventual champion Iga Swiatek. By the end of the year she was voted WTA Newcomer of the Year.
Could this be the tournament that sees Zheng book her first major quarterfinal? She could be a potential fourth-round opponent for No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka. Zheng says confidence is never an issue. The only variables are body and mind.
"Talking about the confidence, I always believe that I can beat every opponent in front [of me], of course if my body is healthy and everything was in the right place," she said. "But right now I was just always focusing on the present, day by day and point by point, ball by ball."
Zheng's focus on the present is the result of, by her own estimation, a disappointing start to the 2023 season. An ill-advised decision to switch racquets played a part in her early results, but Zheng also believes she was letting her ambition get the better of her.
"I am not so happy with what I have been doing in this half year, because I thought I could have done a little bit better," Zheng said. "It's already more slow than what I imagined from the beginning of the year.
"So right now I'm trying to do good every single day, because I think what I'm doing before is I'm thinking too much far away.
"So right now I have to not think about the ranking, because the ranking is not important at all for me. I have to just focus every single day, and that's all."
Finding the right balance remains a work in progress for Zheng, who will face either Yulia Putintseva or Maryna Zanevska in the second round. There will be no sightseeing trips or days off during her fortnight in Paris.
"I am not getting so relaxed during the tournament, because I know there are a lot of matches to go, and I have to be prepared mentally," Zheng said. "So I don't want to get too relaxed, because my personality is if I get relaxed, I think I get too much. So I have to control myself to be more focused."