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Carrying China's hopes

China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-12 10:09

Australia has been a lucky land for Chinese players as many have achieved their career-best there.

The most significant example, retired legend Li Na, won the women's singles at the 2014 Australian Open, while Yan Zi and Zheng Jie became the first Asian duo to clinch a Melbourne Park title when they won the women's doubles in 2006.

In 2008, China's Sun Tiantian partnered with Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia to win the mixed doubles title.

Five of the nation's top female players will take up the challenge at this year's Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the 2018 season, which starts in Melbourne Park on Monday.

Peng Shuai, the highest ranked Chinese in the WTA rankings, is the country's best hope. She reached a career-high world No 1 in doubles in February 2014, making her the first Chinese professional tennis player, male or female, in singles or doubles, to reach world No 1.

At the 2017 Australian Open, Peng stunned 23rd seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia in the first round before losing to Canada's Eugenie Bouchard.

Zhang Shuai, at No 35 the second highest ranked Chinese female singles player, won her first match in a Grand Slam tournament at the 2016 Australian Open, where she defeated current world No 1 Simona Halep en route to the quarterfinals.

China's other young guns in Melbourne next week will include Wang Qiang, No 44, Duang Yingying, No 84 and Wang Xinyu, who was born in 2001.

There will be no male Chinese players competing. Wu Yibing, who became the first Chinese male to win a Grand Slam title by claiming the boys' singles and doubles titles at the 2017 US Open, is not in the field for health reasons.

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