Chinese tennis player Zhang Shuai secured an incredible victory against Simona Halep in the first round of the Australian Open, knocking the second seed out of the tournament.
The 26-year-old Zhang, who has never before won a Grand Slam match, beat the Romanian 6-3, 6-4 to produce one of the first upsets at this year’s tournament.
Zhang, currently ranked world number 133, was on the brink of retiring from tennis altogether, but her victory against the Romanian in Melbourne has changed everything.
Although she has been training since she was six, her parents have never attended any of her tournaments. So Zhang decided to bring her parents to Melbourne to commemorate what she thought was the end of her tennis career.
Zhang entered the court feeling completely at ease with herself. “To play against the great player, I’m feeling no more nervous. Because nothing to lose,” she said. “So I play like 100 percent good.”
“I almost retire, but you know, so many people help me, give me the help. My coach, my parents, my team, also national team. My sponsor always try to help me, give me more motivation.”
Halep had been recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, but was pain-free during the match. After a diplomatic hand-shake with Zhang, Halep left the court arena in tears.
“I played too short, too soft; she could do everything with the ball,” said Halep. “It’s O.K., I don’t want to make this match, like, dramatic. It happened. You know, everyone can lose. Everyone can win.”
Zhang will now go on to face France’s Alize Cornet in the second round at Melbourne Park.
— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 19, 2016
By Eugenia Xiao
[Images via Reuters]