Zheng Qinwen earned a spot in her first championship match at any Grand Slam tournament — she’ll face Aryna Sabalenka for the Australian Open title on Saturday — by winning a semifinal at Melbourne Park that came 10 years to the day after another Chinese woman, Li Na, claimed the trophy there.
Li, who also won the French Open, is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and remains the only player from her country to earn a major singles title. She was a trailblazer, serving as inspiration for Zheng when she was a kid learning the sport in China. The two spoke in person for the first time during this Australian Open, and Zheng credits Li with offering some key advice.
“She (told) me: ‘Don’t think too much. Just go for it,’” the 12th-seeded Zheng said after eliminating qualifier Dayana Yastresmka 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday. “That’s enough, I think.”