COLLEGE PARK, Maryland – China’s Zhang Shuai fought off fatigue to upset Australian fourth seed Jelena Dokic 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday to reach the second round of a $220,000 WTA hardcourt event in suburban Washington.
After playing in a national tournament in her homeland, the 22-year-old from Tianjin was still jet lagged after a 12-hour flight on Friday to Washington but she ignored her coach’s suggestion that she could wthdraw.
“I wanted to try because I want to win. I’m very happy,” Zhang said. “Very good win. I was sick. No tennis. Just sleep and eat. I’m really tired. For me it was very difficult.”
Zhang, ranked 85th, will face American Irina Falconi on Wednesday for a quarterfinal spot that would match her best run of the year from last month at Copenhagen. Her best WTA showing was to reach a Guangzhou semifinal last year.
“I really want to (reach the final) but who knows?” Zhang said. “Tennis players should be able to play every day. If you want to win the tournaments you have to be ready to play well. I think I’m ready.”
Dokic, a former World No 4 now ranked 54th, said she felt no pain from a hamstring injury that prompted her to pull out of two events earlier this month after a first-round Wimbledon loss. She was happy to start her hardcourt run.
“I’m not too disappointed. I would have liked to have won but I’m looking forward. The idea is to peak for the US Open,” Dokic said.
“It’s quite a long season. The first tournament is always a warmup to get into it. There is a transition from clay to grass to hardcourts and I’m still getting used to it. There’s a lot of tennis still coming.”
Dokic was a teen sensation in 1999 when she shocked top seed Martina Hingis in the first round at Wimbledon on her way to the last eight. Dokic also reached the 2000 Wimbledon and Olympic semifinals.
Dokic won three WTA titles in 2001 and two more the next year but family issues, many involving her controversial father, Damir, led to years of setbacks before a comeback that saw her reach the 2009 Australian Open quarter-finals.
Dokic, 28, won only one WTA match in 2010 but her comeback caught fire this year with a sixth career WTA title coming in February at Kuala Lumpur and a runner-up showing last month at ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
“I’ve had some good results but had some quite erratic results,” Dokic said. “I would like to be a little more consistent. I would like to keep the bad losses to a minimum.
“Winning a title has helped me and gotten my confidence back up. It’s just a matter of keeping that going. It’s not so much about the ranking. It’s about improving my game.”
Israeli top seed Shahar Peer, a first-round loser in her past four events, snapped the streak by ousting Japanese qualifier Ryoko Fuda 6-4, 6-2 in 85 minutes, fighting off nine of 10 break points.
“It’s always nice to get through the first round. I’m very happy,” Peer said. “I hope to get better with each match.”
Peer, ranked 24th, was one victory shy of cracking the top 10 in April but dropped five matches in a row to slide 13 spots in the rankings.
“I’ve been changing my game and working on a lot of things in practices,” Peer said. “I’m sure in the next matches I will play better.”
Struggles continued for China’s 28-year-old Zheng Jie, who dominated early but lost her opener 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 to the oldest player in the draw, 37-year-old American Jill Craybas.
Zheng, a 2008 Wimbledon and 2010 Australian Open semifinalist, has not gone past the second round this year after two operations on her left wrist.
Source: China Daily