Dubai: One of the top women’s tennis players is confident China’s Fed Cup qualification for the play-offs will at least temporarily lift the gloom and despondency of a nation.
Currently ranked World No.34, Saisai Zheng was an integral part of a China team that refused to ponder too much of the situation back home following the havoc being wreaked by the Corona Virus as they secured one of two play-off spots at the end of the Asia/Oceania Group I Fed Cup by BNP Paribas at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, over the weekend.
“I see the news and it is pretty sad to see what has been happening on a daily basis. But, I am sure that right now everybody is sticking together and fighting together to get rid of this virus,” Saisai told Gulf News in a chat after China had completed a dominant 5-0 win, on Saturday.
“This week was special to each one of us as we wanted to play for our country and give our country hope and something to cheer about. This makes this win even more special as we wanted to tell the entire China that we are here flying the country’s flag in the midst of all the negative news that’s happening,” she added.
Presently ranked No.45 in the world, China’s squad comprising of Qiang Wang (No.29), Saisai Zheng (No.34), Shuai Zhang (No.35), Shuai Peng (No.102) and Ya Fan Xu (No.10 in doubles) won all five encounters to finish with a 14-1 win/loss record - their one match dropped due to a stomach injury to Yi Fan Xu against Uzbekistan. Zhu Lin (No.72) and Ya Fan Wang (No.84) assure that China has at least five players ranked within the top-100 at the moment.
Saisai, who turned 26 last month, hit her highest singles career ranking of No.35 at the end of October 2019. This week, she has slipped one spot above following a quarter-final appearance at last month’s Qatar Open. Turning professional in 2008, Saisai has won one WTA singles title at the Premier level – the 2019 Silicon Valley Classic – along with another four WTA doubles titles. Last year, Saisai teamed with countrywoman Duan Yingying to reach the doubles final at the 2019 French Open.
“We are pretty solid right now and we are just going to keep everything together and fight for every point as we go along. This win here is truly well-deserved for all of us especially when we see that it’s come against the toughest situation we have faced as a country,” Saisai noted.
“And now that we have qualified to play against the Netherlands, we need to have a look at them and see how best we can go about targeting a win next month. But for the moment, we are just trying to have everyone together and fight together as a single unit with common ideals and goals. I am sure we head out for the play-offs with our best team,” she confided.
Saisai also related that she feels something special when it comes to team competitions like the Fed Cup. “All of us feel the power. There are more people around you and we feel like a team in the real sense of it. We have all the coaches too and everyone is ready and eager to help out wherever possible,” she related.
“In a team competition, one can feel the excitement of having one’s teammates around, and then of course, there is the pressure as one is challenged to do well for one’s country,” Saisai added.