Zheng Chinwen becomes first Chinese player to reach Australian Open final in 10 years

Zheng Qinwen (China, No. 15) has reached the women’s singles final of the 2024 Australian Open. This is the first Australian Open final for a Chinese player since Chinese tennis legend Li Na (retired). Li Na was the Australian Open champion 10 years ago. Zheng will face world number two Arina Sabalenka (Belarus) in the final as she looks to win her second consecutive title.

Chinwon Chung defeated Dayana Yastrzemska (Ukraine, No. 93) 6-4 6-4 in the women’s singles semifinals of the Australian Open 2024 at Melbourne Park Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday. The match lasted 1 hour and 42 minutes.

The match took place immediately after the conclusion of the match between Sabalenka and Coco Goff (USA, No. 4). After Sabalenka and Goff’s match, the de facto main event of the day, the stands at Rod Laver Arena were empty. But the atmosphere in the arena was Chinese. There were tons of Chinese fans at Rod Laver Arena to cheer on their friend Zheng Chin Yuan. Moreover, it was raining in Melbourne that day, so the roof of Rod Laver Arena was closed. The sound of the Chinese crowd’s “Zha~yo” cheers continued to echo in RoadRaver Arena.

Zheng Chinwen’s dominance was evident in terms of rankings and recent performance. For Jastremska, who was at a relative disadvantage, the way to win this match was simple. She needed to play her normal game and minimize her mistakes. However, Yastremska failed to do so. Against her friend, who was in relatively poor form, she made too many unforced errors and lost the match.

Yastrzemska was unable to maintain her momentum in the first set. After breaking Chung’s first service game, Yastrzemska took a 2-0 lead, but her subsequent service game was problematic.

Yastrzemska conceded the break. It was too bad. In a game that went down to deuce, Yastrzemska double-faulted four times. She squandered her chances to get a decent lead. The break advantage was gone.

Chung was still in bad shape. Chung, whose strength is in aces, had just one ace in the first set. Her first serve accuracy was just 53%. But it was Yastremska who was even worse. Yastrzemska’s first-set first serve accuracy was 48%, which was worse than Chung’s. Neither Chung nor Yastrzemska were able to sustain rallies in the first set.

In the end, Yastrzemska was broken in one more game. Chung took the first set 6-4.

Chung’s performance in the second set was much better than the first. She served three aces, her specialty. Jastremska, who was in a tight spot, also increased her focus. Her first serve accuracy in the second set was up to 60%.

Once again, double faults were a problem. Yastremska was broken in the seventh game at 3-3. She dropped the first point with a double fault and then made a series of unforced errors on her friend’s attacks. The gap would last until the end of the second set. It was 6-4 Chung to reach her first Grand Slam final.

Despite the win, Zheng’s performance was far from impressive. His offense was not as strong as usual, as if he was nervous in front of the huge Chinese crowd. On top of that, his first serve accuracy has been dropping since the quarterfinals. Even in this match, she hit just over half of her shots at 55%. She had only 15 winners in the match, compared to Yastremska’s 20.

Yastremska was able to break Zheng if she played her game well enough. However, her first serve accuracy was 54%, lower than Zheng’s 55%. Despite needing to make fewer errors to upset the lower-ranked player, Yastrzemska seemed more nervous than Zheng. She was unable to carry the surge that took her through qualifying and into the quarterfinals into the final.

Instead, Yastrzemska’s live ranking jumped to 29th. This is close to her career-high ranking of 21st. If she maintains this ranking, she could be seeded at the next Grand Slam.

Chung, who reached her first Grand Slam final, jumped to #7 in the live rankings. She will play Sabalenka in the final on the 27th. She holds a 1-0 head-to-head record against Sabalenka, who won their last meeting in the quarterfinals of the US Open 6-1 6-4.

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