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Monday, January 25, 2016

Australian Open 2016: Melbourne's Cinderella - Zhang Shuai

Zhang Shuai of China is turning out to be the Cinderella story of this year's Australian Open. She was just in qualifying last week, and made it to the main draw.  Promptly sent Simona Halep, world #2 from Romania, packing in the first round, and continued to have wins over players ranked more than 100 places than her, Alize Cornet of France, and Americans Varvara Lepchenko and Madison Keys.

Now, she finds herself in the last 8, in the quarterfinals of a grand slam!

I was lucky enough to see her play against Simona and you can immediately see that it was business for her from the strike of the first ball.

I thought, ok, just an excited young player.  But she continued and before we knew it, she upset Simona!

Then, most players who upset a top seed, normally folds in the next day and loses to their next round opponent.

But not Zhang Shuai.

She promptly dispatches Alize Cornet!

Well, if she can defeat Simona and Alize, why not Varvara?  And she did.

But today, I thought, ok, her time has finally come.

And it did seem like that as Zhang lost the first set to Madison 63.  So I decided to have my dinner thinking that Madison already had this in the bag.

No, she didn't!  When I returned from dinner, I saw that Zhang won the second set, 63!  And to make the story more intiguing, I saw Madison limping around!

Whew!  What  a dramatic third set it was as you can see Madison bravely playing through the pain and seeing Zhang a bit flustered with the situation of having to play a wounded opponent!

Anyhow, Zhang got confused a bit on the 6th game which Madison won but after 33, Zhang charged on and stepped on the accelerator, and closed the match at 63.  All through the remaining games, you can see Madison really valiantly fighting and giving whatever she's got!

Kudos to Zhang!  I am definitely watching her QF match with Johanna Konta!

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