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Zhang Shuai of China volleys the ball during the second set of her quarter-final match against Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain at the 2021 Cleveland Championships. Photo: AFP

Victoria Azarenka beats China No 1 Zhang Shuai at Chicago Fall Classic

  • Two-time grand slam winner from Belarus sees off world No 49 Zhang in straight sets
  • Chinese star moves on to doubles with India’s Sania Mirza at Indian Wells warm-up event

China’s No 1 Zhang Shuai crashed out of the women’s singles at the WTA Chicago Fall Classic on Tuesday where she lost to Victoria Azarenka in straight sets.

The Belarusian, who is the 14th seed at the Indian Wells warm-up tournament, made light work of the match breezing to a 6-2, 6-1 win in the Windy City.

Azarenka raced into a 4-0 lead in the first set after twice breaking Zhang’s serve and the Chinese world No 49 could not get back into it.

The world No 34 then notched a 4-1 lead in the second set on the way to a 61-minute win that finished with another break of Zhang’s serve.

Azarenka, a two-time grand slam champion, moves on to play Hailey Baptiste in the round of 32 of the tournament.

Zhang will play again in the women’s doubles where she and partner Sania Mirza of India face the US duo of CoCo Vandeweghe and Caroline Dolehide.

Is Chinese tennis finally on the up?

The Chinese-Indian partnership won the Ostrava Open last weekend and will be looking to continue that form in Chicago.


Zhang is currently fourth on the Race to WTA Finals women’s doubles list with partner Samantha Stosur.

She and Stosur won the US Open doubles earlier this month, following on from winning the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati in the lead-up to New York’s slam.

Zhang was the only Chinese player to stay on tour throughout the year as her compatriots returned to China to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and then the recent National Games.

Now she has been joined on the tour by several Chinese players, including Zheng Saisai and Wang Xinyu.

Top seed Zheng is in action against Maria Kozyreva of Russia at the Berkeley Open in California, where second seed Wang will play Sachia Vickery of the US in the singles.


They are also joined in California by Lu Jiajing who plays Taiwan’s Liang En-shuo.

Zheng and Wang Xiyu won the doubles at the ITF Columbus event last week where Zheng and Wang Xinyu both reached the semi-finals of the singles.