Qualifier Zhang beats stricken Keys to extend dream run

Mon Jan 25, 2016 9:59am EST
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By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - China's Zhang Shuai continued her fairy-tale run at the Australian Open when she became the first women's qualifier since 1990 to reach the quarter-finals after beating a hobbling Madison Keys 3-6 6-3 6-3 on Monday.

She is only the fourth Chinese woman to make the last eight at a grand slam and her run in Melbourne has been particularly surprising given she had contemplated giving up tennis after failing to progress beyond the first round of 14 successive majors dating back to 2008.

"I've been waiting for one match win (at a slam) for so long, more than eight years," 133rd-ranked Zhang, who struggled to finish off the ailing Keys as nerves took hold, told reporters.

"It's very exciting. I don't want to stop."

Zhang's progress began with the first major upset of the tournament, when she dispatched world number two Simona Halep.

But she was given little chance of reaching the last eight against the hard-hitting American youngster, a semi-finalist last year when she pushed Serena Williams hard.

The 15th-seeded Keys won the opening set in 32 minutes but the 20-year-old needed medical treatment on her left leg after being broken in the third game of the second, an injury she later said was probably a torn adductor muscle.

Keys, who added she also had issues with a stomach muscle in a previous match that flared up again on Monday, found it increasingly difficult to move and the 27-year-old Zhang took advantage to send it to a decider.   Continued...

China's Zhang Shuai celebrates after winning her fourth round match against Madison Keys of the U.S. at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 25, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato