Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Zheng's Wimbledon success boosts China's Olympic hopes

* Reuters
* , Monday June 30 2008

BEIJING, June 30 (Reuters) - Zheng Jie's victory over world number one Ana Ivanovic at Wimbledon has reignited China's hopes of tennis gold at the Beijing Olympics after a largely dismal 18 months for the country's leading women players.
The 24-year-old became the first Chinese to beat a reigning world number one with a 6-1 6-4 thrashing of Serb Ivanovic in the third round on Friday, a victory all the more remarkable because she was playing as a wild card ranked 133rd in the world.
Zheng, who missed most of last year with an ankle injury, is a former Wimbledon and Australian Open doubles champion as well as an Asian Games doubles and singles champion.
"All she's missing is an Olympic gold," read a headline in Titan Sport newspaper. "China's golden flower expected to bloom at the Olympics," added Beijing Youth Daily.
China's hopes of success in August had faded since Zheng helped lead the breakthrough for Chinese women in 2006.
She teamed up with Yan Zi to win China's first major titles in Melbourne and at the All England Club, won her second and third WTA singles events and helped China reach the Fed Cup world group for the first time.

Zheng's Wimbledon success boosts China's Olympic hopes
Only Li Na did better, becoming the first Chinese to reach the last eight of a grand slam, at Wimbledon, and the first player from her country to move into the top 20.
Zheng and Li have since struggled with injury and loss of form and Yan is currently the top-ranked Chinese woman at number 45, a spot ahead of Li.
Gao Shenyang, deputy director of the Chinese Tennis Association, hailed the victory and said Zheng was a blueprint for a new generation of players.
"It was a remarkable moment for Chinese tennis," he told the Beijing News.
"Zheng has two reasons to win. One is her mentality. She never gives up until last moment. Second is her way of playing -- speed, variety, cleverness. That can represent the future direction of development of Chinese players."

Zheng will also play doubles in Beijing because, with long-time partner Yan, she is still considered the best chance of China retaining the Olympic women's doubles gold medal won by Sun Tiantian and Li Tie in Athens.
Zheng and Yan both come from Sichuan capital Chengdu, which was hit by a devastating earthquake on May 12.
"We will dedicate our achievements to our local people," they said.
(Reporting by Liu Zhen and Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Ed Osmond)
(For more stories visit our multimedia website "Road to Beijing" at http://www.reuters.com/news/sports/2008olympics; and see our blog at http://blogs.reuters.com/china)

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