BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Zheng Jie thrilled home fans by upsetting world number four Ana Ivanovic to book a place in the China Open semi-finals on Friday.
The 25-year-old doubles specialist showed the fighting qualities that took her to the last four at Wimbledon in her 7-6 2-6 6-4 win, scrambling to hold serve under furious pressure from Ivanovic in the last set.
After failing to serve out the first set, second seed Ivanovic entered the third with all the momentum, after clinically dismantling Zheng’s serve in the middle stages.
But the Serbian French Open champion, who was also dumped out of Wimbledon by Zheng, promptly ran into a brick wall in the decider and was broken twice as Chinese spectators roared “Zheng Jie, jiayou!” (Come on Zheng Jie!).
“She was really aggressive and she was dominating a lot. At the (time) I wasn’t realizing I was running a lot, but after the match when I talked to my coach, he was saying that, probably, I should have been more aggressive,” Ivanovic told reporters.
Having saved a break point and survived a marathon deuce battle at 4-3, Zheng closed out the match in style, serving cleanly to bring up three match points but needing only one to seal victory.
Zheng, China’s first singles player to make a grand slam semi-final, faces a tough match against fourth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, who needed only 61 minutes to sweep aside Slovak Dominika Cibulkova in her 6-2 6-4 victory.
The world number seven trounced Zheng 6-0 6-1 at their only WTA Tour match at Doha in 2006.
Kuznetsova’s compatriot and fifth seed Vera Zvonareva also booked a semi-final place, routing Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-0 6-1 in just over 51 minutes.
The Russian world number nine will face Serbian top seed Jelena Jankovic, who buried a hapless Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, seeded seven, in the second set to win 7-5 6-1.
Editing by Padraic Halpin