BEIJING -- Zheng Qinwen is in the middle of a successful stretch as she makes her China Open debut. The highest-ranked Chinese star defeated compatriot Zhu Lin this past week in the gold medal match at the Asian Games
After the win, Zheng disclosed she had split with coach Wim Fissette after the US Open, where she made her first Slam quarterfinal. The breakup was a surprising one, not the least to Zheng herself. Now ranked No.23, she hired Fissette during the grass season. He guided her to a first Hologic WTA Tour title in Palermo in July.
Zheng told reporters that Fissette chose to end their partnership to return to his coaching role with Naomi Osaka, who is plotting her comeback after giving birth to her daughter in July.
"During the US Open I knew he had contact with the team of Osaka," Zheng told reporters. "Right after the [quarterfinal] match, he said to me that he felt like he had no connection with me. He never said that to me before."
A week later, Zheng says, Fissette told her he would be joining Osaka's team.
"I cried after hearing that," she said. "There were no fights, no arguments in our collaboration.
"I thought that was an unethical end to that collaboration. I understand that Osaka can provide a better offer to him. I understand from his perspective this might be a better position. He has a family to support. I understand his decision, but it doesn't mean I will forgive him for making such a decision."
More from Beijing:
- US Open champ Gauff ready to get back to work
- Swiatek in no rush to reclaim No.1 ranking
- From 'Daughter of China' to World No.1, Sabalenka returns to China
- Draw analysis: Rybakina and Zheng to clash in Round 1
Zheng has continued to work with her fitness coach, Rob Brandsma, who has also taken over coaching responsibilities.
"He knows when to add more items in my practice, when to lessen the items in my practice," Zheng said. "He's also taking up the role of a tennis coach because I thought that it is quite ideal for me. People are usually opposed to such an idea, having a fitness coach working as your tennis coach."
Though still reeling from her split with Fissette, Zheng has been buoyed by the support she has received while competing in China. This week's event in Beijing will be her first WTA event on home soil. She has a tough task immediately ahead. After a quick turnaround from the Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zheng will face No.5 Elena Rybakina in the first round on Monday.
It's not the perfect preparation for her debut in the biggest WTA event in China, Zheng concedes, but she would not have it any other way.
"When I was competing overseas, there weren't many fans when I practiced," Zheng said. "But coming back to China, I have a lot of Chinese fans cheering for me. They actually whispered in Chinese when I was practicing. I could hear them. That was quite friendly. I felt very nice during the practice."
Rybakina and Zheng will play Monday night.