China's unheralded Zhang Ze yesterday celebrated the biggest win of his career, handing fifth seed Richard Gasquet of France a shock second-round defeat at the China Open.
Zhang, 22, overcame world number 11 Gasquet 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, to set up a quarter-final tie against Germany's Florian Mayer.
"I had a very good start, winning the first set. I played a lot against his forehand which gave me the opportunity to control the game," Zhang said.
"This is a new start. It is a very important driving force for me, because the more matches you win, the more points you are going to get and the higher ranking you will get," he added.
Zhang has become the highest ranked mainland player ever in the men's game, moving from 292nd at the start of the year to 165th currently, and credited his rise to Gasquet's former coach and compatriot Guillaume Peyre.
Zhang said he decided to hire a foreign coach because they have more experience than those at home.
"The foreign coach can provide me with something more enlightening," Zhang said, pointing out that Peyre has "already coached a lot of high-profile players" in the game.
"What he brings me is very much different," he added of Peyre, who also coached 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis.
Zhang hired Pyre last autumn and now has his sights set firmly on breaking into the top 100. "My coach gives me confidence. He tells me that you are not always going to belong to the players in the top 300 or top 400.
"He also helps me to make a strategy for each and every single match. For different opponents we have to introduce different tactics. This helps me tremendously."
Gasquet, who won the Thailand Open last week to end a 21/2-year title drought, admitted his exploits in Bangkok had left him tired but said Zhang had been the better player. "Last week I played a big tournament. I'm not physically 100 per cent, but it's not the reason I lost," Gasquet said. "He's talented, he played aggressive and fast, and at the end he played better than me. He deserves this victory."
In the women's tournament, top seeds Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova reached the last eight. Azarenka dispatched Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-3 while Sharapova defeated Slovenian qualifier Polona Hercog 6-0, 6-2.