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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Zhang Shuai: Female Breakthrough Player Australian Open 2016





Zhang Shuai gets awarded the Female Breakthrough Player for this year's Australian Open.  This is awarded to the lowest ranked player (not in Top 100) who reaches the deepest part of the main draw of any of the grand slams.

Zhang Shuai probably delivered the best performance of any player, male or female, in the first round of this Australian Open. 

She looked breathtakingly perfect from the first point to the last point, as she blew away the number two seed Simona Halep of Romania 63 64.  It was as if a tornado blew into the court and left the more accomplished player in tatters.

It was really amazing to see her maintain such a high level of play throughout the match.  It's not always that a new player takes it to the top seed, it's normally, the other way around.

In the second round, she won over Alize Cornet of France 63 63 (#33), a player ranked 100 places higher than her.

In the third round, she dispatched Varvara Lepchenko of the US (#51), 61 63. 

She will meet another American in the fourth round but she will be a real test since she was last year's semi-finalist, Madison Keys (#17)

With compatriot Qiang Wang's comprehensive victory over Sloane Stephens yesterday, it's not hard to notice that even with the retirements of Li Na, Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai, there's a slew of hungry, determined and assertive players from China.

When I was doing my year end review last year, I noticed a big number of female Chinese players ranked between #101 and #200.  

It's only January and already, two players from China have made splashy grand entrances in this year's first grand slam - always the best stage to announce to the world that you have arrived.

It would be interesting to find out how deep these two women can get into the tournament.

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