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Pan Pacific Open: Zheng Qinwen routs top seed Badosa to reach quarters

Tokyo : China’s Zheng Qinwen continued to soar in her breakthrough season, knocking out No 1 seed Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-2 in 78 minutes in the second round of the Pan Pacific Open to reach the quarterfinals of the tournament, here on Wednesday.

This is the 19-year-old’s first completed Top 10 win. Previously, she had advanced over Ons Jabeur via retirement in the second round of Toronto. It puts Zheng into her third tour-level quarterfinal of 2022, and second at WTA 500 level or above.

“It was a big match for me. Even though the score was like this, there were a lot of emotions for me in this match and I’m very proud of myself. It’s not a surprise – I always knew I had the level, I just had to make it,” said Zheng.

The teenager’s overall record this year is now 34-15, and 19-15 at the tour level. Having ended 2021 at No 143, she has risen to a career-high this week of No 36. She also came into this match in supreme form after a 6-1, 6-4 first-round defeat of Misaki Doi that had seen her win 19 points in a row.

If anything, the scoreline against Badosa does not do justice to Zheng’s level of dominance. She was initially slow to find the range on her forehand, and fell behind an early break.

But once she had settled, Zheng was imperious. From 3-1 down in the first set, she reeled off the next seven games, and 11 of the next 13. She did not face another break point in the match, in total, she tallied seven aces and won 82 per cent of the points behind her first serve.

The Chinese tennis player also repeatedly teed off on the Badosa serve, blitzing three clean return winners in one game to break the Spaniard at the start of the second set. She was clutch in important moments, too, winning three consecutive games from 30-30 to turn the first set around, and fired 18 winners overall.

Though extended exchanges were few and far between, such was the quality of Zheng’s first strikes, she was also able to outlast the World No 4 in athletic longer rallies as well. Zheng proved adept at soaking up her opponent’s pace; unable to find a way through, Badosa ended up with 20 unforced errors to only six winners.

Zheng will next face either Elise Mertens or Claire Liu as she bids to reach her second WTA semifinal, and first at WTA 500 level.

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