Grand Slam finalist Zheng Qinwen carries on with world champion goal supported by nation of fans
Published: Jan 27, 2024 06:20 PM
Zheng Qinwen. Photo:VCG

Zheng Qinwen. Photo:VCG

China's 21-year-old tennis ace Zheng Qinwen won wide applause in China despite her maiden Australian Open final ending in defeat to former world No.1 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus with 6-3, 6-2.

The result of appearing in the women's singles final makes Zheng, who is just in her third year in professional tennis, the second Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final after Li Na's triumph at the Australian Open in 2014.

At the post-match awards ceremony, Zheng expressed her congratulations to Sabalenka, her gratitude to fans, and said that the Saturday game was a "precious opportunity" to her and gave her "complicated feelings." She said she can do it better.

"Although Zheng experienced defeated, her breakthroughs in these years are quite promising as she is still young in the sport," Mao Jiale, a Chengdu-based sports commentator, told the Global Times.

After experiencing Saturday's final, Zheng's world ranking elevated to be the 7th. It only took the young player three years to complete such big leap from the world's 630th in her professional career.

"There is still room for improvement, such as the consistency when under pressure, but I'm sure she will be a dominating force in women's tennis a few years later," Mao said.

Zheng's resilient performance at the Saturday competition was commended in a congratulatory letter sent from the Chinese Tennis Association (CTA), in which the CTA called Zheng's performance a "tribute" to her fellow player Li Na.

The CTA praised her performance in the Australia Open final. Including Zheng and Chinese male player Zhang Zhizhen, the CTA described them a reflection of China's improved overall strength in the field of tennis sport.

Before making a breakthrough at the Australian Open, Zheng made her debut at the 2024 United Cup as China's No.1 female tennis player.

The year 2023 was one of several highlight moments in her career. Zheng won the championship title in the 2023 Asian Games women's singles 2-0 to another Chinese tennis player Zhu Lin. Also, the same year, Zheng defeated Italian player Jasmine Paolini in the final of the Palermo Ladies Open to have gained her first career title on the Hologic WTA Tour.

The WTA (Women's Tennis Association) named Zheng the Most Improved Player of the Year after that competition.

Zheng's performance in the game with Sabalenka became a trending topic which has so far been viewed by more than 100 million netizens on China's social media platform Sina Weibo.

Many netizens commented that the young player is the "hope for Chinese tennis."

"At the latter part of the game, I really do see her strength and tenacity by still performing steadily in spite of knowing she would very likely to lose the game. This made me see the power of the new-generation Chinese tennis players," one netizen posted on Sina Weibo.