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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hantuchova too strong for Zheng

Photo Titled Jie Zheng
Jie Zheng
Zheng Jie, who was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon last year, failed to repeat that impressive form against Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, losing in straight sets.

Zheng, a wild card in 2008 and the 16th seed this year, was defeated 6-3, 7-5. It was a big contrast to those heady days of last summer when the Chinese woman could do little wrong at Wimbledon until the late stages and bounced on to the Beijing Olympics where she won a bronze medal.

Those memories clearly meant little to Hantuchova who is unseeded at Wimbledon for the first time since 2004 and she set out to show that she deserved more from The Championships where she was included in the main draw for the ninth time.

Hantuchova was late for her appointment on court and slow handclapping from the spectators welcomed her arrival. Whether that upset Hantuchova’s preparations was unclear, but she dropped her opening serve, scoring just one point, and ending with a double fault. From that fairly low grade opening, things could only get better for Hantuchova - and they did.

The sixth game was an endurance test, with both players holding game points and Zheng doing well to stop a couple of game points to Hantuchova. Zheng had one game point as well but Hantuchova took that with a service return winner and broke back to 3-3.

For Zheng, this was a real blow and she dropped serve again to go 5-3 behind. Hantuchova took the set with a barrage of winners after 38 minutes.

The story of the second set was more close encounters but Zheng simply could not take a significant lead when it mattered in the late stages. Hantuchova, with her deliberate preparations for each point, was strong at staying in the rallies and also broke Zheng’s rhythm with drop shots or lobs.

From 4-3 to Hantuchova, there were four successive breaks of serve, leaving the Slovakian to serve for the match.

Zheng contemplated defeat by working even harder in the finale. She ran and ran and one backhand winner when Hantuchova was drawn out of the court was Zheng at her best. It saved a match point as well.

But, on a second chance, Hantuchova’s volley winner ended the match in her favour and her wide smiles showed how she felt about it.

Court 3 - Ladies' Singles - 2nd Round
Jie Zheng CHN (16)35
Daniela Hantuchova SVK Winner67

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