Dynamic duo: China's Wang and Zhang through to Open quarter-finals

Sports | 12 Oct 2018

Wang Qiang and Zhang Shuai continued their dream run in the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open, raising hopes of a first Chinese champion in the tournament.

Sixth-seeded Wang, 26, reached the quarter-finals with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over American Christina McHale, while Zhang took three sets to defeat Dutchwoman Lesley Kerkhove 6-1, 6-7 (4/7), 6-1.

Zhang said she felt "everything is coming together" as she set up a clash with last year's runner-up Daria Gavrilova.

"I like playing Asia, I like playing China, Hong Kong - I'm feeling happy here."

Australia's Gavrilova advanced with a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3) win over unseeded Monica Niculescu of Romania.

Both Wang and Zhang have credited Li Na's shining example and the explosion of tournaments in the mainland after her Grand Slam wins with the emergence of a new generation of Chinese players.

Wang, ranked 24th, and No 40 Zhang head a list of four Chinese players in the current top 100, and there are 11 in the top 200 including 17-year-old US Open junior champion Wang Xiyu.

"Li Na has given us all a lot of hope," Zhang said. "When she won the Grand Slams more people decided to try tennis and try to believe in themselves."

She added: "Now we have so many tournaments in China I think a lot of young players have more opportunities to make a higher ranking."

Zhang, 29, said the game was now a big hit among mainland fans. China has seven WTA Tour-level tournaments this year.

"For sure it's more popular than it was five years ago because unlike with other sports, almost every week there is a big tournament," she said.

Wang said Li's achievements stood as a "goal" for her career, and had kick-started the development of tennis in China. "Other players are now doing really well so I think China has a good future," she said. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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