Chinese Number 2 hopes to keep flag flying

Chinese number two Peng Shuai said Li Na's breakthrough French Open win had ramped up the interest in Chinese tennis - and the pressure.

Updated: June 25, 2011 14:16 IST
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London: Chinese number two Peng Shuai said Li Na's breakthrough French Open win had ramped up the interest in Chinese tennis - and the pressure.

While the focus was initially on world number four Li at Wimbledon, Peng has outlasted her compatriots at the All England Club and said she was happy to fly the flag solo.

"I will try my best and keep fighting," the 20th seed told AFP.

Peng was the only remaining Chinese in the singles after Li was beaten by Germany's Sabine Lisicki and Zheng Jie went out to Japanese qualifier Misaki Doi.

"Li Na had a really tough match against Lisicki, who has a really good serve," Peng said.

"It's tough sometimes. She's got a lot of pressure on her after the French Open.

"I've not thought about whether that pressure is now going to come onto me. Everybody (in China) for sure wants us to win, though.

"Certainly there's much more interest in Chinese tennis. After Li Na won the French Open, tennis is becoming more and more popular. Now a lot of people watch tennis, know it and love it. I'm really happy to be a player at this time."

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is due to visit Britain in the coming days and although his schedule will have already been planned, Peng said it would be a great surprise if he was able to see her play.

"I hope!," she said.

"I didn't come last year and I saw that Queen Elizabeth came to Wimbledon, everyone loved it and tried to get a photograph of her, so these things are nice.

"I wish to play some good tennis and fight and keep going forward."

Peng saw off a gutsy performance from Britain's Elena Baltacha on Friday to become the only Chinese player to reach the third round.

The 25-year-old recovered from losing the first set to claim a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory, setting up a clash with Hungary's Melinda Czink on Saturday for a place in the fourth round.

"I've never played her or even practiced with her. I know she's left-handed but we haven't had much time to think about that match because after playing Baltacha I had to get ready for the doubles," Peng said.

"I will talk with my coaches about the match, try to rest and then play some good tennis."

In reaching the third round, the Tian Jin double-hander has matched her best-ever Wimbledon effort, having made the round of 32 in 2006 and 2008.

Peng said she struggled at times against Baltacha but would not be deterred from the task ahead.

"I was nervous and a little bit tired so I didn't really hit the ball properly," she said.

"If wanted to hit the ball cross-court the ball didn't listen to me and go there. It happens to everyone sometimes. But you cannot give up and stop trying."

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