Home hero Zhang Shuai stuns Simona Halep to reach Beijing quarters
China’s top ranked player rides wave of crowd support into last eight
Home hero Zhang Shuai cruised past Simona Halep to book a quarter-final place at the China Open on Thursday in rain-hit Beijing.
Zhang overpowered fifth-ranked Halep in less than a hour, beating her 6-0, 6-3 to delight the home crowd in the Chinese capital.
It was a day of upsets as Elina Svitolina ousted top seed Angelique Kerber, scuppering her plans of a 12th quarter-final this season, and intermittent rain interrupted – and then suspended – play on the open-air outer courts.
It was the Ukrainian’s second win this year over a world number one after she denied Serena Williams a fifth Olympic gold medal with a straight sets win in the third round in Rio.
In the roofed National Stadium, the home fans’ cheers carried Zhang into the quarter-finals for the first time in seven attempts, dropping just three games en route.
The 27-year-old began the year with a first-round upset of Halep at the Australian Open – her first win in a grand slam main draw, which left her in tears.
But there were no tears on Thursday – just huge smiles and an ecstatic audience.
In the men’s draw, Rafael Nadal managed to avoid being the third upset of the day, when he defeated French qualifier Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 7-6 (8-6).
After steaming through the first set, Nadal made 17 unforced errors in the second, pushing the match to a tie break.
Mannarino denied the 14-time grand slam champion his first match point, but the Spaniard advanced to the quarter-finals on the second.
“I played a fantastic first set. Great level of tennis, serving very good, hitting so good,” Nadal said after the match.
“During the second, I think I slow down a little bit the rhythm, and he really played well.”