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Wind can't blow Zhang off course at Australian Open

China Daily | Updated: 2020-01-23 09:35
China's Zhang Shuai prepares to serve to Catherine McNally of the US during their second-round match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Wednesday. Zhang won 6-4, 6-2. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's Zhang Shuai moved into the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of American Catherine McNally in windy conditions in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Zhang told Xinhua the weather made it difficult for her to place her shots, and admitted she was delighted to progress considering she usually struggles in such blustery conditions.

"Today's wind was very strong so it's difficult to say who was performing well," she said.

"It was difficult for us to hit the balls where we wanted in these conditions. I'm happy to win because it wasn't easy.

"Normally when the wind is strong I don't play very well and my opponent varies her tactics, so I'm happy to reach the third round."

Zhang has begun her campaign in confident fashion, opening with a hard-fought three-set victory over former US Open champion Sloane Stephens on Monday night.

The 31-year-old said that winning last year's Australian Open women's doubles title, alongside local star Sam Stosur, had given her extra belief in her ability to perform at Grand Slams.

Riding that wave of success, the 35th-ranked player went on to reach last year's Wimbledon quarterfinals, her best singles performance at a major since reaching the same round of the Australian Open in 2016.

Zhang will next face world No 15 Sofia Kenin of the US. Zhang's compatriot Zheng Saisai lost 6-2, 6-4, to defending champion Naomi Osaka of Japan.

Emotional Wozniacki

On Margaret Court Arena, an emotional Caroline Wozniacki had tears in her eyes as she kept alive her dreams of a triumphant farewell to tennis.

The 29-year-old former world No 1 roared back in both sets to defeat 23rd-seeded Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 7-5, 7-5.

Neil Diamond's hit Sweet Caroline rang around the blustery arena after the Dane nailed the sixth match point to reach round three. She next plays Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.

"It's a little bit emotional for me," said Wozniacki, the 2018 Australian Open winner who announced in December that this would be her final tournament.

"The crowd really got behind me so that was so special. Thank you everyone for coming out today, it really means a lot to me," she added, fighting back the tears.

The 19-year-old Yastremska, beaten by world No 1 Ashleigh Barty in last week's final in Adelaide, threatened to put a swift end to Wozniacki's career.

But having been 5-1 down in the first set, Wozniacki-who suffers with rheumatoid arthritis-battled back to claim the set in 53 tough minutes.

Now ranked 36th, having ended 2010 and 2011 at No 1 in the world, Wozniacki was similarly quickly down 3-0 in the second set.

But once again she fought back to make it 4-4, then held her own serve to lead 5-4 and move within touching distance of round three.

Yastremska then required a medical timeout for what appeared to be a left thigh problem, and returned to court with heavy strapping.

She saved five match points, but with the crowd firmly behind her, Wozniacki would not be denied.

Xinhua

 

 

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