NEW YORK — Zheng Qinwen, Zhang Shuai, Wang Xiyu and qualifier Yuan Yue advanced to the third round of the US Open, marking the first time in the Open Era that four Chinese women have advanced to the third round. a Grand Slam.
“So it’s like five,” said Zheng, referring to Wu Yibing, who became the first Chinese to qualify for the third round of a Grand Slam.
“I think it’s so positive. In China, tennis is starting to go up. I think between us we have a good competition between us. When you have someone to compete [with]you can always [perform] better. I think with that energy, I hope all of us can go as far as we can.”
At 19, Zheng, ranked 39th, has continued to build a solid resume that points to a major breakthrough. She is in her third straight Slam round after beating Jelena Ostapenko in the first round and Anastasia Potapova in the second.
It should be noted that the champions of the last two major tournaments, Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros and Elena Rybakina at Wimbledon, had to go through Zheng. Each time, the powerful teenager took the distance from them. She has already won marquee wins over Simona Halep on clay at Roland Garros and Bianca Andreescu and Ons Jabeur in Toronto. At Wimbledon, Zheng regretted a missed opportunity against Rybakina to take a late break and beat the eventual champion.
“When she won the championship, I always congratulate her, of course, because she deserved it,” Zheng said in Toronto. “But it’s like I have to have this game. And it’s me, I’m giving him this championship.
“And yeah, I know it’s not right to say that, but I was really, really pissed at myself for that game.”
Swiatek once again emerges as a potential obstacle for Zheng, who could face the world No. 1 in the fourth round. But first, she will prepare for Germany’s Jule Niemeier.
Yuan is the newest addition to the group, and her reaction to her first third round said it all. She put her business studies at Shanghai University on hold to focus on tennis, and at 23, she is ranked No. 143. Yuan battled her way through qualifying to make her first Slam main draw and beat Jamiee Fourlis and Irina-Camelia Begu without dropping a set.
“Actually, I [feel] I’m not ready to play the third round of a Grand Slam,” Yuan said. “Before this tournament, I played an ITF 60K and lost in the first round of the main draw. So I’m a bit confused. It just happened.”
Yuan said it was his recent practices with the likes of Wang Xiyu and Wang Qiang that gave him more confidence in his quality.
“I saw a lot of players that they could do really well, so I tried to learn from them,” Yuan said. “Sometimes I train with them and I think sometimes I don’t think I play really badly.”
“Sometimes I train with Chinese players, like Zhu Lin, Wang Qiang, Wang Xiyu. They are all very good players, Top 100. Wang Qiang was Top 12. They helped me a lot.
“Before, I didn’t have clothes for Wimbledon and Wang Qiang helped me. She has a lot of clothes from her sponsor and her coach said if you don’t need so many, I can donate to the people who need it. And I’m like, ‘I need it!'”
For n°75 Wang, it was in New York that she found her best tennis. Former No. 1 junior and women’s champion in 2018, the 21-year-old left-hander stunned No. 3 Maria Sakkari to make her first third round at a Slam. She will next face No. 29 seed Alison Riske-Amritraj.
No.36 Zhang is the veteran of the group. The 33-year-old from Tianjin is having one of the best seasons of her career. Just two weeks ago in Cincinnati, Zhang ousted Naomi Osaka and Anett Kontaveit to make her first WTA 1000 quarter-final in four years.
With wins over No. 30 seeds Jil Teichmann and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, she will face Canadian Rebecca Marino for a spot in week two.
“I’m so proud to be part of this team,” Yuan said. “I think for our Chinese players, Covid has been very difficult. It was difficult to travel. But we are getting stronger. Sometimes difficult things make you stronger.”