Tennis: Qualifier Zhang beats Keys to reach q-finals, will play unseeded Konta

Zhang Shuai celebrates after victory in her match against Madison Keys on Jan 26, 2016.
Zhang Shuai celebrates after victory in her match against Madison Keys on Jan 26, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - China's Zhang Shuai became the first women's qualifier since 1990 to reach the Australian Open tennis quarter-finals after beating a hobbling Madison Keys 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 late on Monday night.

The 15th-seeded American had comfortably won the opening set but was broken by the Chinese player in the third game of the second and immediately took a medical time-out for treatment to what appeared to be a left leg injury.

Keys, 20, then found it difficult to move around the court and the 27-year-old Zhang used that to her advantage to make the American chase the ball and send it to a decider.

Keys, a semi-finalist last year, looked on the verge of retiring several times in the deciding set but battled on grimly despite being in obvious pain.

The 133rd-ranked Zhang struggled to control her nerves in the decider, but eventually held it together to set up a quarter-final against unseeded Briton Johanna Konta.

The last qualifier to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals was Mexico's Angelica Gavaldon in 1990.

"I was very lucky today," a smiling Zhang said in an on-court interview after the match which finished around midnight local time.