Zheng Qinwen's revenge tour continued at the Bank of Communications Zhengzhou Open, where she defeated Anhelina Kalinina 6-3, 6-2 in 1 hour and 26 minutes to reach her first semifinal on home soil.
For the second match in a row, the 21-year-old Chinese player faced an opponent against whom she had a 0-2 record. For the second match in a row, she turned the tables emphatically, backing up her second-round upset of No.3 seed Maria Sakkari with another straight-sets win.
Zheng's losses to Kalinina had both come before either player had cracked the Top 100, with the Ukrainian winning a pair of clay-court ITF semifinals in Montpellier and Contrexéville in 2021. Two years on, both have established themselves firmly inside the Top 30.
Key moment: No.24-ranked Zheng demonstrated how far her aggressive game has come, keeping on the front foot by slamming down 32 winners -- including eight aces -- to only 20 unforced errors. Nine of those winners came in one remarkable pivotal game in the second set. As Kalinina served at 1-1, Zheng piled the pressure on with relentless returning.
Zheng denied No.28-ranked Kalinina six points to hold, navigated through 12 deuces and eventually took her seventh break point, slamming a return at Kalinina's feet to force a backhand error. From there, she cruised to the finishing line to book her place in a third semifinal of 2023, and third of her career at WTA 500 level.
Zheng to face rematch against Paolini: In the last four, Zheng will face a rematch of July's Palermo final against Jasmine Paolini. The World No.31 defeated Laura Siegemund 6-0, 7-5 in 1 hour and 44 minutes, winning the first nine games in a row before needing to hold off a late charge by the German qualifier.
Highlights: Paolini d. Siegemund
Three months ago, Zheng claimed her maiden Hologic WTA Tour title by defeating Paolini on the Italian's home soil. Having powered into her first WTA 500 semifinal, Paolini now gets a chance to take revenge on Zheng's home court.
No.7 seed Barbora Krejcikova also advanced to the semifinals after qualifier Lesia Tsurenko retired trailing 6-3 due to mid back pain.