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Zheng ousts Ivanovic

Nirmal Shekar


Zheng’s win augurs well for China ahead of the Olympics

Ivanovic was erratic and made 17 unforced errors

Zheng showed no signs of nerves


— PHOTO: AFP

Jie Zheng.

London: Wimbledon has been particularly harsh on the marquee names this week. And, in the women’s championship, Dump the Divas may well be the popular rally cry among the nameless, faceless foot soldiers.

On Friday, China’s Jie Zheng, world ranked 133, pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in the history of the Wimbledon championships when she outplayed the world No.1 and top seed, Ana Ivanovic, 6-1, 6-4 in a third round match of the women’s singles event.

With the Beijing Olympics just a few weeks away, China could not have asked for anything better.

The Net Cord Woman — Ivanovic famously survived a second round scare against Nathalie Dechy of France when her forehand on matchpoint dribbled off the tape and spun in — was well and truly netted by the gutsy Chinese journeywoman.

Big surprise

“This is a big surprise for me. She is the world No.1 and I wanted to play well,” said Zheng, who became the first Chinese woman to make the fourth round of a Grand Slam four years ago at the French Open.

If Ivanovic, who made 17 unforced errors, was a private haze of her own, hitting the balls everywhere but within the lines, then Zheng was powerful, precise and wonderfully imaginative from the back of the court.

The 24-year-old from Chengdu cleverly directed traffic to Ivanovic’s weaker side, the backhand, returned superbly and came up with big serves when she needed them.

Once Ivanovic double faulted to go 1-3 down in the first set, it was all one way. There was a flicker of hope for the French Open champion when she broke back to 2-2 in the second set. But on an afternoon when she simply could not keep the ball in play, Ivanovic lost serve in the following game.

Zheng showed no signs of nerves as she held through to serve out the match, wrapping things up with a service winner on her first matchpoint.

“I want to thank my family and friends. They helped me when I was injured last year — especially my husband,” said Zheng.

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