Tennis is growing sport in China. The latest product from there is Qinwen Zheng. Zheng is a player with immense potential and on the rise in the ladies’ game. She has had a good start to 2022 rising in the WTA rankings to 77 and reached the main draw at the Australian Open. Leylah needs little intro as she reached the final of the US Open in 2021 and seeded number 2 here in Mexico. The two handed backhand is a strong weapon in Zheng’s arsenal, if she can just tweak it a bit. By tweak I mean add depth to her shots. Check out 1-0 Fernandez(40-15). Two backhand shots barely making it outside the service box making the backhand down the line an easy choice for Leylah. Leylah dominated the first set. Not only was the shot selection from Zheng poor, Fernandez didn’t have to work an awful lot with the UNFORCED ERRORS mounting for Zheng. Watch 4-1 Leylah(30-40). Before we head to set two, vindication for what I said about Zheng’s backhand at 5-1 Leylah(40-15). She saves one set point here by aggressively placing the backhand close to the baseline. More of that was needed in set two to make things interesting here.
If there is an Achilles heel on the Chinese player, it has got to be her serve. She served a poor 47% on first serve but won more points on first serve than the Canadian. The fact that the match went the distance shows how poorly Leylah did attacking that second serve. The second set was ultra competitive with one break of serve settling things and it went the way of Zheng. Watch game 6 at 3-2. Check out 15-0 to Leylah. Now, Zheng won the point beautifully with a forehand bang on the money but the rally saw her hitting the forehands too high above the net as a result she risked going wide on them on the baseline. The all important break came at 5-4 with Fernandez serving to stay in it. What a gift it was. Leylah netting a routine backhand on deuce. Zheng’s serve improved in set three although she had an unacceptable 10 Double faults in the match. Point of the match, first game of set three 15-0 Zheng. Did you see how the ball changed direction after the Chinese’s backhand volley? For Leylah to get her body in position to do the backhand down the line is astonishing. Both players fought gallantly on serve particularly in the first and second games. Shot selection improvement from Zheng. Check out 1-1(15-15).Choosing to go lob instead of passing shot was brilliant. It seemed as if every game was going to deuce showing the level of competitiveness in the set. Inevitably, a tie breaker was needed. First player to blink was Zheng. But first overhead smash 101 from the Chinese. Check out first point of the breaker.The ball had bounced on an awkward part of the court so chance of messing it up was there. Zheng kept eye on the ball and a corner of the other on the player and saw Leylah commit early. The Canadian ground stroked really well in the breaker to take it 7-3 and she now moves on to the last eight of this WTA25 event.