No. 23 ranked Zheng Jie kicked defending champ and World No. 1 Dinara Safina out of the third round of the LA Women’s Tennis Championships on Thursday night. It was Zheng’s second career win over a No. 1 player, her first coming against then-No. 1 Ana Ivanovic during the Chinese player’s historic semifinal run at last year’s Wimbledon.
“It’s amazing for me because I’ve never beaten Safina before.” Zheng said after the match. She now has a 1-4 head-to-head against the Russian. “You could tell that I was 110 percent on every point. I tried to be more aggressive.”
Safina, who said on Wednesday that a now tendinitis-free knee was giving her renewed confidence on her serve, blamed this shot for her flame-out on Thursday:
“I was not going for the aces,“ said Dinara, who had a 70% first serve percentage for the match but only 2 aces to 3 double faults for the match. “I was just bringing the ball in play. That was a mistake. In set two, I tried to go for the aces and it just didn’t work.”
Zheng will face big-serving Sam Stosur in the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon. Zheng won their only previous meeting this year in Dubai in three sets.
“It is a very tough match (coming up),” Zheng said, “But I just want to enjoy today’s win and get a good night’s rest.”
If you’re not a member of the Zheng Jie fanclub yet, click here. She puts the “Hero” in the WTA’s “Looking for a Hero” campaign.