Zheng aiming for Djokovic 'chill' in semifinal

football24 January 2024 18:15| © Reuters
article image
Zheng Qinwen © Gallo Images

Zheng Qinwen reached the semifinals of the Australian Open for the first time with her win over Anna Kalinskaya on Wednesday, and now the Chinese 12th seed wants to learn to be as chilled as men's world No 1 Novak Djokovic.

Order of Play | Watch Live on DStv

Zheng defeated Russia's Kalinskaya 6-7(4) 6-3 6-1 in the quarterfinal and afterwards spoke of her brief chat with Djokovic the previous day when they crossed paths after her practice session, as the Serb was about to take on Taylor Fritz in his quarterfinal.

"Well, that talk was really fast, honestly, I talk with him before his match," Zheng said.

"You know, he came to say hi to me, so chill. Looks like he doesn't have a match. Because me, before a match, I'm really focused and I don't want to talk with anyone.

"I really want to learn that chill from the top players, because I think that is what I'm missing."

The 21-year-old was far from chilled as she lost the opening set against Kalinskaya, despite breaking the Russian's serve twice early on.

"I think at the beginning of the first set I'm just thinking too much," Zheng said.

"That's why I lost the first set, because I got those early breaks, then later on I'm not able to keep my serve.

"Of course, that's one of my problems. So when I lost the first set I tried to tell myself to stay focused, don't think too much."

Zheng had no problem holding her serve in the next two sets, and she hit 10 aces over the match compared with Kalinskaya's two.

"I think my serve just gets better and better as the match goes on," Zheng said.

"Of course, I think there are lot of things I need to improve, especially in the percentage. I still think there is a lot of margin I can still improve a lot in my serve."

There isn't much time to improve things now, as Zheng faces Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska on Thursday for a place in the final.

"Well, I don't know if you can improve in less than 24 hours," Zheng said with a smile.

"Yeah, basically I think just trying to recover, and I think about what I have to do for the next match and enjoy on court, focus on the present.

"I mean, there is nothing I can change too much in 24 hours, right? So, yeah, I just keep it simple and let's go for it."