Tennis: China's 'fab four' make history at US Open

(From left) China's Zheng Qinwen and Yuan Yue joins Wang Xiyu and Zhang Shuai in the third round of the US Open. PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

NEW YORK - Zheng Qinwen and Yuan Yue joined compatriots Wang Xiyu and Zhang Shuai in the third round of the US Open on Thursday - the first time in history four women from China have reached the last 32 of a single Grand Slam event.

Rising star Zheng held her nerve to defeat Russia's Anastasia Potapova 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-3) to set up a third-round clash with Germany's Jule Niemeier.

Qualifier Yuan meanwhile matched Zheng's achievement with a hard-fought 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) defeat of Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu.

Yuan will now face Jessica Pegula of the United States on Saturday for a place in the last 16.

On Wednesday, Wang produced a stunning upset to send third seed Maria Sakkari of Greece tumbling out of the tournament, winning 3-6, 7-5, 7-5.

While Chinese women's tennis has enjoyed increasing success over the past decade, with Li Na famously becoming the first player from Asia to win Grand Slam singles at the French Open in 2011 and Australian Open in 2014, never before have so many women from China advanced to the third round of the same tournament.

China also celebrated a US Open first in the men's draw, with 22-year-old Wu Yibing advancing to the third round on Wednesday.

The 19-year-old Zheng has emerged as one of the brightest talents of Chinese tennis, her ranking rising to 39th in the world after a series of assured tournament performances.

The youngster has flourished in her first season playing Grand Slam tennis, reaching the second round of the Australian Open before advancing to the fourth round of the French Open and the third round at Wimbledon.

Zheng said on Thursday that China's contingent in New York is feeding off the energy of each other's successes.

"This is so positive. It means in China the tennis starts to go up," she said.

"Between each other, we have really good competition. When you have someone to compete, you always can perform better.

"I think with this energy, I hope all of us, we can going as far as we can. Such good performance here, I'm happy for all of them."

Zheng said her consistency at Grand Slams this year is the result of hard graft on the practice court combined with her dogged determination to succeed.

"I always say that Slam is one of my dreams since I was little," she said. "So every time when I arrive here, I will leave everything I have on the court." AFP

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