|Wang Qiang (left) plays her career-best game in Beijing on Friday to make it to the singles semifinals of the 2018 China Open against Danish player Caroline Wozniacki (right), who went on to win the open on Sunday. [Feng Yongbin/China Daily, Kong Hui/Xinhua]|
Although she lost to world No 2 Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets at the singles semifinals of the 2018 China Open on Saturday, Wang, a rising star from Tianjin, still has plenty to cheer about. She is the second Chinese to go this far at the Women's Tennis Association Premier Mandatory event, after Li in 2010 and 2012.
Wang's career-best performance in Beijing triggered a standing ovation from her home fans, who have been eagerly awaiting another Chinese to shine on the pro circuit after Li hung up her racket in September 2014 because of a chronic right knee injury.
Wang attributed her success so far this year to confidence accumulated by an impressive run, which also includes her first two WTA titles in Guangzhou and Nanchang, Jiangxi province, as well as a semifinal appearance at the Premier 5 event in Wuhan, Hubei province, before Beijing.
"I am now a more confident player, especially facing higher-ranked opponents on the big stage," said Wang, who has improved her ranking to a career high of No 24. "That confidence makes you believe more in yourself and play with greater composure."
Wozniacki, who won this year's Australian Open, moved on to defeat Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, 6-3, 6-3, on Sunday to win the Beijing tournament again, after her first title in 2010.
The Danish former world No 1 praised Wang for her potential and resilience that will help her deliver better results at future Grand Slams.
With tennis booming in China, inspired by Li's two major wins at the 2011 French Open and 2014 Australian Open, the rise of homegrown stars such as Wang to the Grand Slam spotlight will help drive grassroots participation and the number of tournaments in the country, said CCTV commentator Xu Yang.
(Source: China Daily)
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