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Zheng first Chinese ever into Melbourne quarters

Zheng Jie became the first Chinese player ever to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals on Sunday when she upset 31st seeded Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Melbourne
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2010 10:24 AM IST

Zheng Jie became the first Chinese player ever to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals on Sunday when she upset 31st seeded Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

Her reward is a last eight showdown against either Dinara Safina or Maria Kirilenko after outlasting Bondarenko in one hour, 48 minutes on Hisense Arena.

The 26-year-old from Chengdu was slightly steadier than her Ukrainian opponent in a match where both women struggled to hold their serves.

The stage for a tense battle was set from the very first game when Bondarenko broke Zheng, but that was simply the first of many in a topsy-turvy first set.

Each player was broken three times on the way to an inevitable tiebreak, which went much the same way as the set with first one player, then the other, gaining the advantage.

But at 5-5 in the tiebreak, Zheng steadied and took the next two points to claim the crucial first set.

The second set began as the first ended, with Zheng breaking Bondarenko, only to lose her serve immediately.

There was another break of serve each until at 4-4 when Zheng broke Bondarenko to love and then held firm as she served for the match, pumping her fist with delight and waving to the large number of Chinese fans in the stands.

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