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Jan 24, 2024 11:10 am

Qinwen Zheng reaches first Grand Slam semifinal

No. 12 seed Qinwen Zheng of China advanced to her first Grand Slam semifinal with a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-1 win against Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya at the Australian Open on Wednesday in Melbourne.

Zheng will face Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska in the final four, with No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and No. 4 Coco Gauff meeting in the other semifinal.

Zheng, 21, reached the quarterfinals at the 2023 U.S. Open for her previous best showing in a major. She became just the third Chinese woman to make a Grand Slam semifinal, joining Li Na and Jie Zheng.

She swept 10 of the last 11 games to complete her comeback against Kalinskaya in two hours and 20 minutes.

“I lost the first set and it was really, really difficult,” Zheng said. “I mean, the opponent, she’s playing really good. That was a really tough match. So emotional. It’s more than just tennis on court.”

Zheng struck 10 aces and won 80 percent of the points on her first serve. She converted six of nine break chances and finished with more than twice as many winners (42) as Kalinskaya (18).

Zheng has 44 aces on the tournament.

“At the beginning of the first set I’m just thinking too much,” Zheng said after Wednesday’s match. “That’s why I lost the first set, because I got those early breaks. Then later on I’m not able to keep my serve. Of course that’s one of my problems. So when I lost the first set directly, I tried to tell myself, ‘Stay focused. Don’t think too much. Just focus right now.'”

It will be Zheng’s first meeting with Yastremska, who defeated Linda Noskova 6-3, 6-4 earlier Wednesday, becoming the first qualifier to reach the semifinals in Melbourne since 1978.

The 23-year-old Ukrainian finished off the 19-year-old Czech player in one hour, 18 minutes. Yastremska won 76 percent of her first serves and three of five break points.

The last qualifier to reach the Australian Open semifinals was Christine Dorey in 1978.

After the match, Yastremska said, “I think it’s nice to make history because at that time I still wasn’t born. I was born in 2000. So it’s the next generation. I’m super happy.”

In the semifinals, Yastremska will face the winner of the last quarterfinal featuring unseeded Anna Kalinskaya of Russia and No. 12 seed Qinwen Zheng of China.

Yastremska was coming off a straight-sets upset over 18th-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. She has also knocked off No. 7 seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic and No. 27 Emma Navarro of the United States in the main draw at Melbourne.

After needing three sets to get through all three of her qualifying matches, Yastremska has dropped only one set total in five main-draw matches.

–Field Level Media

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