Five things to know about Zheng Qinwen
Zheng Qinwen is one to watch in the Roland Garros women’s draw as she could be a tough prospect for heavy tournament favourite Iga Swiatek.
Ranked 74th in the world, Zheng Qinwen (郑钦文) is the lowest ranked player left in the women’s singles draw at Roland Garros.
Let Tennishead guide you on a look at the teenage dark horse, her background, inspirations, and how she has made it to a match-up with the world number one.
Zheng Qinwen (family name Zheng) was born in Shiyan in Hubei province, China on 8th October 2002.
At 19 years old, this makes Zheng exactly nine years younger than former world number one and two-time Major champion Garbine Muguruza.
2) Early talent
After picking up tennis as a six-year-old, Zheng grew her potential before catching the eye of sports management giant IMG.
She signed with the company in 2013 at the age of 11.
Down the line, Zheng made her junior Slam debut aged 15 at the 2018 Australian Open.
She lost in the first round there before appearing at the next seven junior Slams across 2018 and 2019.
Her best runs both came in 2019 at Roland Garros and the US Open, reaching the semi-finals both times.
In Paris Zheng lost to Emma Navarro while in New York her conqueror was Alexandra Yepifanova, both Americans, both of whom lost in the eventual finals.
Those two junior Majors provided a sneak peak into the future of the women’s game.
Current world number 18 Leylah Fernandez won the girls’ singles at Roland Garros that year.
Later, world number 66 Camila Osorio won the US Open girls’ singles.
3) A Slam newcomer
Zheng is playing just her second ever Slam main draw at Roland Garros.
She made her Major main draw debut at the Australian Open.
The youngster was seeded 13th in qualifying, defeating CoCo Vandeweghe, Seone Mendez and Mai Hontama to reach the main draw while ranked 108th in the world.
She then upset 76th ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round before losing to eighth seed Maria Sakkari in straight sets in the second round.
Zheng wasted no time though as she jetted off to Florida while the Australian Open was still ongoing.
There she won an ITF 60k event in Orlando, crushing the field before thumping home talent Christina McHale 6-0, 6-1.
4) A Slam-winning idol
Like a number of young Asian players, Li Na is one of Zheng’s biggest inspirations.
She remembers when Li Na became the first Chinese player to win a Major title at Roland Garros back in 2011.
Zheng was eight years old at the time.
She said after defeating Simona Halep to reach the third round in Paris: “In that moment I was still a child.
“Then she gave me a dream that, ‘Oh, the Asian player, the Chinese player, also can win a Grand Slam.’
“And in that moment I have the dream in my heart that I want to do it like her.
“She’s my idol and I always think about that.”
Li Na peaked at world number two after clinching her second Slam by winning the 2014 Australian Open singles.
5) A big win
Zheng burst onto the tennis mainstream radar when she got the better of Simona Halep in the second round of Roland Garros.
Of course, the two-time Slam champion was notably hampered by a panic attack she suffered during the match.
However, Zheng did well to take advantage, closing the match over the world number 19 2-6, 6-1, 6-1.
This is the biggest ranking win of her career, her first over a top 20 opponent and first over a former world number one.
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