China’s Zheng Qinwen reaches landmark grand slam semifinal at the Australian Open

Zheng Qinwen became just the fourth Chinese woman to reach the semifinal of a grand slam after coming from behind to defeat Anna Kalinskaya at the Australian Open.

The 6-7(4-7) 6-3 6-1 victory will also move Zheng inside the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time in her career and sets up a meeting with Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska on Thursday.

“The match was really tough for me and I just told myself: stay focused, don’t think any more about the first set,” she said in her on-court interview.

“I’m so happy right now, really excited. It’s the first time for me – I’m really happy to be in the semifinals, especially with such a good performance like this.”

Zheng and Kalinskaya, the world No. 75 playing in her first grand slam quarterfinal, traded breaks throughout the first set, but it was the Russian who seized an early advantage in the tie-break as she won the final four points in a row.

It wasn’t until midway through the second set that Zheng managed to assert her command on the match, breaking Kalinskaya at 4-3 and wrapping up the set with an ace in the following game.

Kalinskaya (left) and Zheng shake hands after their quarterfinal. - Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Kalinskaya (left) and Zheng shake hands after their quarterfinal. - Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

With the momentum now firmly in her favor, Zheng moved in front by rattling off 12 points in a row in the deciding set. She broke Kalinskaya three times over the course of the set and completed the victory when the 25-year-old drilled a forehand into the net.

Zheng ended the match with 10 aces and 42 winners and converted 11 of her 12 points at the net.

Against Yastremska, the 21-year-old will join Zheng Jie, Li Na and Peng Shuai in the list of Chinese women to reach a grand slam semifinal. Of those, only Li has ever won a major: the French Open in 2011 and the Australian Open in 2014.

According to Opta, Zheng is also the fourth Asian player in the Open Era to reach the final four of a grand slam before turning 22.

Prior to this year’s Australian Open, she had made one previous appearance in the quarterfinals of a grand slam at last year’s US Open.

“The feeling is just – I can’t explain by words right now because there were so many inside,” Zheng later told reporters. “I mean, happiness. Of course, I’m proud of myself. This is just the beginning.”

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