Shuai Zhang's dream run continues... The Qualifier charges through Lepchenko in 64mins, 6-1 6-3. #ausopen pic.twitter.com/h7NdLdltvI— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2016
How many times in the last few years have we heard it? Player suffers disappointing results or career ending injuries and decide that they have had enough of this game. Let me play one last tournament and see how it goes. The most famous of these is Flavia Pennetta and her wrist injury who after being out of the game for close to a year recuperating, returned to the Tour for what she felt was her last time. She would go on to win her then biggest title to date, the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. Deciding to continue, Pennetta would lift the 2015 US Open trophy and promptly retired afterwards.
This year, Shuai Zhang considered retiring. Her results had been less than inspiring. She invited her parents to come along for the Grand Slam of Asia//Pacific believing that this would be her swan song. She had never won a match at what is without a doubt her home slam and was now on the verge of calling it a day. One would be forgiven for thinking that for someone who has had dismal results at one particular tournament, and who just had one desire, i.e. to win a match, getting one of the top seeds and a pick to win the tournament must have been the worst thing ever. Drawing Simona Halep in the first round, Zhang would play fearless tennis to get through Halep.
No idea if this is true but epic tweet about Zhang
First time watching Zhang Shuai. What an amazing game she is playing! And she was just that close to retiring to go into gardening full time— ChowPong (@ChowPong) January 23, 2016
She would get another dangerous opponent in Alize Cornet, a recent title winner and an in form player. While writing this, Zhang is now up a set and a break against Lepchenko. If she wins this match she will meet Madison Keys who had to come from behind to take out Ana Ivanovic.
As I am incredibly late with this, and as the top half has already played their round of 16 matches, the quarter finals in that half are now set with Serena Williams to go up against big serving (no joke intended) Maria Sharapova and Carla Suarez-Navarro against Aga Radwanska.
The round of 16 of the bottom half will be played today and Spin's Picks are below:
Rod Laver Arena
Angelique Kerber v. Annika Beck - the battle of the counter punchers. Look for Kerber to use her experience to take this in straights
Azarenka v. Strycova - the much anticipated Azarenka/Muguraza clash did not happen but 2 players who are not known for holding back on court going up against each other. Bring your popcorn. Azarenka in straights
Keys v. Zhang - what a tournament the qualifier has been having. Keys struggled through her match against Ivanovic but came up big when it mattered most which shows a marked improvement over the emotional mess that she was last season. Zhang moves better and is playing with lots of confidence. This one should go down to the wire, but I am looking for Keys to use her big match experience to once again pull through
Margaret Court Arena
Konta v. Makarova - British pride and joy going up against a player who likes the Australian conditions. Does Konta have one more big win in her? I think yes.
Overheard in the Booth
News broke this morning that Simona Halep will be undergoing surgery on her nose. The Spin team wishes Simona a speedy recovery.