Victorious Peng says she almost quit tennis
Updated: 2011-01-23 09:46
Peng Shuai of China celebrates her victory over Ayumi Morita of Japan after their match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 22, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
Chinese survives cramp to advance to last 16 and join compatriot Li Na
MELBOURNE - China's Peng Shuai secured her best ever Grand Slam result at the Australian Open on Saturday, and afterwards revealed how she almost quit the sport.
Peng survived a late attack of cramp to grind out a tough 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 against Japan's Ayumi Morita and join country woman Li Na in the last 16, stoking hopes of a repeat of 2010, when Li and Zheng Jie made it to the semis.
But the 25-year-old Peng, who bounced back from appendicitis to win the Asian Games gold medal in November, said she almost gave up tennis after her ranking tumbled from a high of 31 in 2005.
"You know, a few years ago when I was like 18, 19, I had a really good year," she said. "I also beat a lot of top-10 players.
"But after that I had a tough decision. I almost stopped playing tennis.
"At the time it was too tough for me to focus on my tennis."
Peng missed much of 2010 with illness and injury and was forced to watch from the sidelines as Li and Zheng claimed the headlines and the honors.
But she has already reached the semifinals in Auckland and Hobart this year, and now the fourth round at the season's first Grand Slam.
"I am just really happy to have the same coach behind me (Alan Ma) and have a lot of people supporting me," she said. "I'm just trying to look forward. I believe in myself."
Peng said she had been partly inspired by the success of Li, who became the first Chinese player in the top 10 after last year's run to the Australian Open semifinals.
"But I think it's not only her, you know. In China now, a lot of people watch tennis. It's improved a lot."
Earlier Peng and Morita battled for 1hr 47mins on one of the hot days of the tournament so far before Peng eventually triumphed.
She began cramping towards the end of the third set and when she was serving for the match, she cramped up after every point, often dropping her racquet as her leg seized up.
"At the time I didn't think that much (about cramps)," she said.
"I was just really like trying to fight. I wanted to win this match. I think after the first set I saw I had a chance so I changed my game a little bit - I was rushing myself.
"So in the third set, I just told myself, don't think about the cramping.
"I was just telling myself if I have the chance to hit the ball, make her move first."
Peng now faces 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska for a place in the quarterfinals.
"I think she's a really talented player, she likes running fast," Peng said.
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