Fourth seed Zhang Shuai has flown under the radar during the Hobart International, but following her 6-3 6-4 win in the semifinal over fifth seed Veronika Kudermetova on Friday she was the focus of attention.
It took the world No.40 just over an hour to defeat Kudermetova and progress into her third-ever WTA singles final, which she’ll then look to back up in the doubles decider alongside Peng Shuai, also of China.
“It’s so exciting because I really like this tournament, it’s in a nice city” Zhang said post-match.
“So I’m really happy that this year I improved and made it to the singles and doubles finals.”
Zhang praised her opponent’s serve post-match, though her own first-service game itself was simply stellar, with the reigning Australian Open doubles champion landing almost 80 per cent of her first serves in.
“Veronika is a really great player,” Zhang said.
“She plays really fast and heavy.”
“I always try to play deep and focus on my serve, and tried to make my returns in, because she has a great serve.”
When you’ve just played your way into the #HobartTennis final, but you put fans first 🙌@zhangshuai121 walked straight from centre court to the lawns today to meet her loyal fans 🇨🇳♥️ pic.twitter.com/Z6nLVYvkc5
— Hobart International (@HobartTennis) January 17, 2020
A regular in Hobart, Zhang’s popularity among the crowd was apparent following her victory.
“I think all matches I played really well this week.”
“A lot of the Chinese fans are coming to cheer for me, so I’ve had a lot of motivation to win.”
Zhang will play 20 year-old rising star Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the Hobart International final on Saturday at 1:00pm.
Tickets for the final are on sale now via Ticketmaster.
Prices start from $45 for adults and entry is free for children with a paying adult.