Zheng and Yan win China's first Wimbledon title

Updated: 2006-07-10 07:24
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Zheng and Yan win China's first Wimbledon title
Yan Zi (R) and Zheng Jie of China hold their Women's Doubles Championship trophies on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, July 9, 2006. [AP Photo]

Zheng Jie and Yan Zi captured China's first Wimbledon title on Sunday when they beat Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez 6-3 3-6 6-2 in the women's doubles final.

The fourth-seeded pair claimed their second major title of the year after winning the country's first grand slam trophy at the Australian Open in January.

Their win capped a successful run for the world's most populous nation at the grasscourt championships after Li Na had made her mark in the women's singles draw earlier in the week.

Li was the first Chinese player to reach the singles quarter-finals at a grand slam, where her run was ended by Belgian Kim Clijsters.

Since Li Ting and Sun Tiantian's victory in the women's doubles at the 2004 Athens Olympics, China has made big strides in women's tennis.

Zheng and Yan win China's first Wimbledon title
China's Yan Zi (L) serves, as partner Zheng Jie waits at the net, during their Women's Doubles semi-final against Cara Black and Rennae Stubbs at Wimbledon, Friday, July 7, 2006. The Chinese couple won the match to reach the final of the tournament. [AP Photo]

The players have benefited from their federation's push to produce world class competitors in time for the 2008 Beijing Games and Sunday's win proved China could achieve its target of landing an Olympic gold in tennis in two years' time.

Zheng and Yan's win also prevented Ruano Pascual and Suarez from completing a career doubles grand slam. The unseeded Spanish-Argentine duo own eight major titles but have now fallen at the final hurdle at Wimbledon for the third time.

Zheng served for the match at 5-1 up in the third set but despite holding two championship points, she was broken thanks to some tenacious hitting by Suarez.

The Chinese pair also saw four more match points go begging in the next game as Suarez came back from 0-40 to hang on for dear life.

But it proved to be seventh time lucky for Zheng and Yan. A volley winner ended the Centre Court contest after two hours and eight minutes and the beaming Chinese pair celebrated their historic win with a warm embrace.