Monday, March 7, 2011

Zheng Jie

Zheng Jie (born 5 July 1983 in Chengdu, Sichuan) is a Chinese professional tennis player. Her career high ranking is World No. 15 which she achieved on May 18, 2009. As of January 10, 2011, Zheng is ranked World No. 27 in singles and World No. 16 in doubles. Being one of the most successful tennis players from China, Zheng has won three WTA singles titles at Hobart in 2005 and Estoril and Stockholm in 2006. She has also won twelve doubles titles, eleven of them with Yan Zi including Wimbledon and the Australian Open in 2006. Her career high doubles ranking is World No. 3. Zheng has reached the singles semi-finals at the 2008 Wimbledon Championships, becoming the first Chinese female player to reach the semi-finals at a Grand Slam, and at the 2010 Australian Open. She also won the bronze medal in doubles with Yan Zi at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was able to defeat a World No. 1 at the time (Ana Ivanović at Wimbledon in 2008). Zheng graduated from the Sichuan Sports Academy in June 2000. At Wimbledon in 2008, she gained recognition when she became the first Chinese player ever to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam singles tournament, defeating then World No. 1 Ana Ivanović en route. She donated her winnings to the victims of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake in her native province. Zheng was coached by Jiang Hong Wei, China's national women's tennis team head coach, but she is now coached by her husband Zhang Yu, who is also her hitting partner. They became close during the period after her severe ankle injury. Zhang Yu was there for her during this time, taking cared of the injured Jie. Zheng is a Rolex testimonee together with Roger Federer and Ana Ivanović, and on the advisory staff of Yonex and uses their rackets. She wears clothing by Anta and appears in their advertising campaigns. Zheng started playing tennis when she was 10, after she saw her older sister play and thought it would be good exercise to keep her in shape. Back then in China, tennis was not a major sport or even really a known sport. But there were, clearly, people who played, and she became one of them.

At first, it was just for exercise. Being rather small (at 5', 4.5"), her parents and herself were afraid that she would not make it far in the tennis world. (In fact, she was called "xiao bu dier" by her parents, which translates into something along the lines of "small kid." Her stature was no surprise though, for both her parents were short.) And so they thought about her quitting and for her to focus on her studies, for otherwise if she did not make it in tennis she would not be able to get a different job. However, her foreign coach saw potential in her, and told her parents and her something along the lines of, "There are many people in China who read books, but there are few who are national heroes." After that, her parents cried and agreed to allow her to pursue tennis as a profession. Most would agree that she has since proved the man right. Back then, there were no grass courts in China, only hard. Thus, her success at Wimbledon surprised even herself at first. Quickly though, it became a surface that she liked, for her small frame is perfect for the fast balls on grass courts. Nearly a year after the Sichuan earthquake that shook her home province, she visited there and brought with her tennis balls and rackets to distribute to the children there. Zheng Jie keeps in a small vial pieces of her ankle bone that were removed during the ankle surgery of 2007. She says she keeps it because it is a part of her, and that it makes her cherish being able to play tennis again and life in general. She says that although it made her world ranking plunge, it also made her grow up a lot. Zheng Jie enjoys shopping, and chooses to do so in her spare time, along with listening to music and watching movies. In 2009, Zheng Jie broke off from the Chinese Tennis Association, for under its jurisdiction she had to give back 65 percent of her earnings. However, Jie talked about how it protected her in times of injury and when she was not playing well, for the CTA would back her completely and give her medical support. Now she manages her own money, which puts her at risk but also means that success will be more profitable. Zheng describes herself as naturally calm, although she does lay out her emotions when she is on the court. Her favorite player is Justine Henin, who she got to face in the 2010 Australian Open Semifinals.

2006 started poorly for Zheng in singles, with a string of six successive first-round losses dipping her ranking to World No. 56 by the end of February. However, after a first round loss in Indian Wells, her 2006 singles breakthrough came at Key Biscayne, Florida where she reached the quarterfinals with wins over Nathalie Dechy and Anna-Lena Grönefeld before falling to Tatiana Golovin. Zheng's new found confidence earned a title at her next tournament in Estoril, where she defeated top-seeded Flavia Pennetta en route to the final before a victory over compatriot Na Li whom was forced to retire at one set each. In Strasbourg, Zheng displayed yet reached the quarterfinals where she lost to second-seeded Czech Nicole Vaidišová. In August, Zheng won the tournament in Stockholm without dropping a set. In the final, she defeated the top seed and former World No. 2 Anastasia Myskina. A knee injury hampered Zheng's singles progess towards the end of 2006. Her US Open ended in a second round defeat to Anastassia Rodionova and her last competitive match of the season saw her worst loss in terms of rankings, where she fell in the second round of Zurich qualifying to World No. 139 Joanna Sacowicz of Poland. However, in December, Zheng took part in the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. After a surprising first round loss in the team event, she went into the singles competition as the second seed. She ended up winning the gold medal, with victories over Shikha Uberoi, Chan Yung-jan, Aiko Nakamura and Sania Mirza. She also took gold in doubles with partner Yan Zi, defeating Yung Jan Chan and Chuang Chia-jung of Chinese Taipei. To end 2006, Zheng won the Chinese National Championships, with a three set victory over her doubles partner in the final. 2007 started well for Zheng, where she reached a second Hobart quarterfinal before losing to eventual champion Anna Chakvetadze. At the Australian Open, Zheng put in an extremely disappointing performance, losing to then 97th ranked Julia Schruff of Germany after holding match point on more than one occasion. In doubles, her title defense with Yan Zi ended in the semifinals with a defeat to Yung Jan Chan and Chia Jung Chuang of Chinese Taipei – the same partnership which they managed to defeat in the final of the Doha Asian Games just 1 month previously. Zheng competed in the both the singles and doubles (with Yan Zi) of the French Open. At the beginning of the tournament, she sustained an ankle injury, hampering her performance. She was knocked out in the first round of the singles competition by Timea Bacsinszky, and also lost in the first round in the doubles portion. The ankle injury sustained at the French Open ruled her out of Wimbledon to defend her doubles title. She withdrew from all events for the rest of the year because of the ankle injury. Her ranking suffered as a result, ending the year ranked World No. 163.

Zheng Jie's return to the tour was successful; in singles, she won two qualifying matches in Gold Coast before losing to Alisa Kleybanova. In doubles, she and Zi Yan reached the final, only to lose to the third seeds, Safina and Szávay. However, in Sydney, the duo won the title, beating second seeds Sugiyama and Srebotnik and reigning US Open champions Dechy and Safina along the way. At the Australian Open, the duo made it to the seminfinals, beating the Williams sisters along the way, before losing to the 12th seeds Peer and Azarenka. Zheng qualified for the main draw of the French Open, and then reached the third round before losing to Russia's Dinara Safina 6–2, 7–5. Zheng's breakthrough in women's tennis occurred at Wimbledon. Despite only being ranked World No. 133, Zheng was given a wild card into the main draw. In the third round, she defeated the first seed and World No. 1 Ana Ivanović. This was her first victory against a top 10 player. Zheng then beat Ágnes Szávay of Hungary, the 15th seed, in the fourth round, and 18th-seeded Nicole Vaidišová of the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. This made Zheng the first Chinese women's tennis player ever to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam singles tournament. She also became the first wild card to reach the semifinals of the women's singles at Wimbledon. In the semifinals, Zheng lost to two-time Wimbledon champion and former World No. 1 Serena Williams. Zheng's strong Wimbledon performance elevated her ranking from World No. 133 to World No. 40. In August 2008, Zheng competed for China in both singles and doubles at the Beijing Olympics. In the singles portion, Zheng made it to the third round before losing to sixth-seeded Dinara Safina of Russia, who eventually won the singles silver medal. Zheng had better results in doubles with her partner Yan Zi, where they were seeded eighth. After losing in the semifinals to the fourth-seeded Spanish team of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual for a spot in the gold medal final, they won the bronze medal match against the Ukrainian sisters team of Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko. This was the second Olympics tennis medal ever won by China. Ranked World No. 30, Zheng returned in September to Beijing for the China Open Tier II tournament. She advanced to the semifinals before losing to World No. 7 and fourth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, 7–6(3), 7–5. Based on her strong China Open performance, Zheng became Asia's highest ranked women's singles player at World No. 26, her highest to-date career WTA singles ranking. She later reached World No. 23 on 20 October 2008. In March 2009, Zheng was awarded the WTA Tour "Comeback of the Year" Award for 2008, as she "rebounded from an injury-marred 2007".

She was seeded 16th at the 2009 Wimbledon Championships, Zheng defeated Kristina Barrois 7–6, 7–6 in a tough match but was upset by Daniela Hantuchová 6–3 7–5 in the second round. As she was unable to defend her ranking points from the previous year, Zheng's ranking fell out of the top twenty to World No. 24. Zheng's next tournament was the LA Women's Tennis Championships as part of her US Open Series Campaign. In the first round, Zheng who was seeded 14, defeated Olga Savchuk 7–5, 1–6, 6–2. She then defeated Elena Vesnina, 6–4, 4–6, 6–0. In the Third round, she listed her second win over a World No. 1, defeating Dinara Safina 7–5, 4–6, 6–4. She then fell to 13th seed Samantha Stosur 6–4, 3–6, 4–6. In Cincinnati, Zheng lost to Sybille Bammer in the first round, 6–2 4–6 6–2. However, in Toronto, Zheng swept past Vesnina once again in the first round (6–3 6–2) before claiming another Top 10 win by defeating eight seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the second, 7–5 6–3. Zheng was defeated 7–6, 6–4 by Lucie Šafářová in the third round. At the 2009 US Open, Zheng, who was seeded 21, defeated unseeded Anna-Lena Grönefeld 6–3, 6–2 in the first round. She then came back from a set down to beat Alizé Cornet in the 2nd round, 1–6, 6–3, 6–3. Zheng lost in the third round to the number 13 seed Nadia Petrova 6–4, 6–1. Zheng's form dipped towards the end of the season. She withdrew from her next tournament in Guangzhou due to a left wrist injury. Zheng entrered the 2009 Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. In the first round she beat qualifier Sania Mirza of India 5–7 6–2 6–3 but was thrashed in the second round to Victoria Azarenka, the World No. 9, 6–1, 6–1. Her final tournament of the year was the 2009 China Open where she lost for the second consecutive year to Svetlana Kuznetsova, but this time in the first round. Zheng ended the year with a 28–22 singles record and she finished the year ranked World No. 36.

Zheng was unseeded at the 2010 Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year. She found herself in trouble in the first round against Peng Shuai, but came back from being bageled in the first set to win 0–6, 6–1, 6–2. In the second round, she defeated the 24th seed María José Martínez Sánchez 2–6, 6–2, 6–3. In the third round she had another great win over the World No. 11 Marion Bartoli in another three setter. Zheng lost the first set 5–7 but recovered to win the next two sets 6–3, 6–0. In the fourth round she played 31st seed Alona Bondarenko. Avenging her loss to Bondarenko in Hobart, Zheng fought hard to win 7–6(5), 6–4. Zheng then made Australian open history by becoming the first Chinese player to reach an Australian Open semifinal when she took out unseeded Maria Kirilenko 6–1, 6–3 in the quarter-finals. In the semi-final match, she lost to former World No.1 and 2004 champion Justine Henin, being crushed 6–1, 6–0. Zheng next competed at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open, where she was seeded eighteenth and had a first round bye; Zheng defeated Sorana Cîrstea 6–3 7–5 in the second round and defeated Maria Sharapova in the third, prevailing 6–3, 2–6, 6–3. In the fourth round she avenged her loss to Alicia Molik in Dubai by beating the Australian 6–3, 4–6, 7–6(1), however Zheng lost to Danish second-seed Caroline Wozniacki 4–6, 6–4, 1–6 in the quarterfinals. In doubles, Zheng and Chan reached the semifinals of the tournament, defeating the top seeds Cara Black and Liezel Huber 7–6, 6–2 in the quarterfinals. Zheng next competed at the Sony Ericsson Championships, but lost in her second-round match with Virgine Razzano, 6–4, 6–2. She and doubles partner Chan Yung-jan reached the semi-finals. Zheng was seeded fifth at the 2010 Polsat Warsaw Open, where she reached the finals of the singles and semi-finals of the doubles tournaments. In singles, she defeated Olga Govortsova in the first round (for the second straight year), and then thrashed Tathiana Garbin 6–1, 6–1, in the second. In the quarterfinals, she faced top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who retired with an ankle injury after Zheng won the first set 6–3. Zheng followed this with a straight sets win over Gréta Arn in the semifinals, however she was defeated by defending champion Alexandra Dulgheru in the final, 6–3, 6–4. Zheng was seeded 26th at the 2010 French Open and reached the second round after beating Ekaterina Bychkova 7–5, 6–4. However she lost in the second round for the second consecutive year, falling 6–4, 6–3 to qualifier Anastasia Pivovarova. Her next singles tournament was the 2010 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women's Open, where Zheng lost to the eleventh-seed Flavia Pennetta in the first round. In doubles, Jie teamed with Yung-jan Chan and reached their projected quarterfinal spot. Next playing at the 2010 Rogers Cup, Zheng reached the quarterfinals following wins over Katarina Srebotnik, Aravane Rezaï and a straight sets win over defending champion and Top-10 player Elena Dementieva. In the quarterfinals, Zheng lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets, 6–1, 6–3. Zheng next played at the 2010 Pilot Pen Tennis tournament in New Haven, where she was easily beaten in the first round by Sara Errani 6–1, 6–2.

Zheng Jie expression when she got score

Zheng Jie performance at field

Zheng Jie with her sexy costume

Zheng Jie smile

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