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Wang Qiang vs Zheng Saisai WTA Nanchang tennis live: Can second seed Wang avenge Wimbledon defeat to Zheng in all-Chinese Jiangxi Open final?

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 28 Jul 2018
  • Wang Qiang faces Zheng Saisai in an all-Chinese final at the Jiangxi Open on Sunday
  • Wang vs Zheng is live from Nanchang on Sunday at 5pm local/10am BST
Wang Qiang (-/AFP/Getty Images)

An all-Chinese final at the Jiangxi International Women’s Open guarantees a homegrown Nanchang champion for the third straight year, but will it be Wang Qiang or Zheng Saisai?

Will it be Wang Qiang or Zheng Saisai who claims their first WTA Tour title at the Jiangxi International Women’s Open on Sunday?

Since the Nanchang tournament became a WTA Tour event in 2016, only Chinese players have triumphed at the International-level tournament and that streak is guaranteed to continue with an all-Chinese final between Wang and Zheng, the winner joining Peng Shuai and Duan Ying-ying in the winners’ circle. 

It’s just the third all-Chinese final in WTA Tour history, following Zheng Jie’s win over Li Na in Estoril in 2006 and Li Na’s win over Peng Shuai in Shenzhen in 2014, and it will see either Wang or Zheng become a first-time champion on the WTA Tour – both women have won two WTA 125 titles, but neither has made the final or won the title at an International-level or bigger tournament before.

Second-seeded Wang Qiang was just 12-14 in 2018 coming into Nanchang, but despite losing more matches than she has won (including the first three matches she played in 2018), Wang has still posted some pretty strong results this season. A semifinalist at the WTA International event in Hong Kong in 2017, Wang scored some excellent wins at Indian Wells in March, beating Elise Mertens and Kristina Mladenovic to reach the round of 16; she also made the quarterfinals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg and the third round of the French Open, recording the second victory over a top-10 player of her career when she beat Venus Williams in the third round.

Playing Nanchang for the third time after failing to win back-to-back matches on her previous appearances, Wang has dropped just one set on her way to the final. Opening with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Ankita Raina, the second seed dropped a set to Sabina Sharipova in the second round on her way to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 victory, but steadied the ship in a 6-3, 6-0 win over the unseeded Liu Fangzhou in the quarterfinals.

Although Wang won her semifinal match in straight sets, it was by no means a straightforward affair as she took on Magda Linette of Poland, the only non-Chinese player to make the semifinals. In extremely hot and humid conditions, Wang took 98 minutes to win a match that was primarily defined by long, bruising rallies, breaking twice in each set to claim a 7-5, 6-2 victory – even more impressive given that she had lost all three previous matches she had played against Linette.

‘I am very happy with the result. I didn't think too much about [the head-to-head],’ Wang said afterwards. ‘I just tried to play one shot at a time.’

Zheng Saisai (-/AFP/Getty Images)
Zheng Saisai has also dropped just one set on her way to a first WTA final, although in her case that dropped set came in Saturday’s semifinals. After straight-sets wins over Miyu Kato, Karman Tandi and Xun Fang Ying, the latter a very late-night affair on Friday that finished past midnight in Nanchang, Zheng took the court to face an opponent in Zhu Lin against whom she had a perfect record but dropped the second set and had to battle her way through, eventually closing out a 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 victory.

‘It was really tough, because yesterday I played very late, but everyone is here to support us,’ Zheng said afterwards. ‘I'm very happy to get into the final for the first time.’

The 24-year-old Zheng was ranked as high as world no. 60 in 2016 after making the semifinals in Nottingham and quarterfinals at Premier events in Doha and Stanford, but comes into Nanchang ranked world no. 112 after injury kept her off the court from the US Open in 2017 until March, when she returned to competition at the Shenzhen $60k. Zheng’s ranking dipped as low as world no. 147 on her return, but a 14-match winning streak which saw her claim the WTA 125k title in Zhengzhou, the ITF $60k title in Quangzhou and reach the final of another WTA 125k in Anning before losing to Irina Khromacheva saw her edge back into the world’s top 130. Zheng went on to successfully qualify for Nottingham and reach the second round of Wimbledon (with a win over Wang, in fact) and was a semifinalist at the Contrexville ITF $100k two weeks ago before losing to Stefanie Voegele, so she was well on her way back towards the top 100 even before Nanchang – and her run at the Jiangxi International Women’s Open should see her not just back into the top 100, but up to world no. 85. 

Zheng could climb even higher should she claim a maiden WTA Tour title in Nanchang – and her record against Wang, two years her senior, is a decent one. Their head-to-head is tied at 2-2, with Zheng winning their first meeting in Dalian in 2015 before Wang won two subsequent meetings, only for Zheng to win their most recent encounter at Wimbledon this year, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. Wang has been playing well this week, though, and the way she struck the ball against Linette in Saturday’s semifinals suggests to me that it could be the second seed who gets the win in this all-Chinese battle for the Nanchang title.

Wang vs Zheng final tennis is live from Nanchang on Sunday at 5pm local/10am BST

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Wang Qiang vs Zheng Saisai WTA Nanchang tennis live: Can second seed Wang avenge Wimbledon defeat to Zheng in all-Chinese Jiangxi Open final?

Either Wang Qiang or Zheng Saisai set to claim their first WTA title in Nanchang as the two face off in a rare all-Chinese final: Jiangxi Open tennis live from Nanchang

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