Two days after save the match point and despite a 27-ace barrage from No. 2 seed Caroline Garcia, No. 28 Zhang Shuai booked her place in the semis with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Petra Martic. Zhang will face either Garbiñe Muguruza or Liudmila Samsonova for a spot in her third final of the season.
Playing in Tokyo for the first time in over a decade, Zhang is now in her third semi-final of the season. Earlier this year, Zhang won her third career singles title in Lyon and reached the final in Birmingham. Zhang entered the fall season after a successful hard-court summer season, which saw the 33-year-old play back-to-back quarterfinals in Cincinnati and Cleveland before making her first US Open round of 16. .
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Zhang entered the quarter-finals looking for her first-ever victory against Martic. The Croatian had beaten her twice on hard courts. In their last game at Miami 2019, Martic only lost three games.
Zhang managed to open the match after Martic scored 1 of 5 on break points in the first set. In contrast, Zhang only saw two break points in the opener but converted both times. From 5-5 in the first set, Zhang clinched seven straight games before Martic went on the board at 5-1. She closed the victory on her fifth match point after 1 hour and 22 minutes.
The win is Zhang’s 34th of the season, more than double her tally of 15 in 2021. She is the first Chinese player to advance to the semi-finals in Tokyo since Li Na in 2009.
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“Last year was a tough half year,” Zhang said after the game. “I had an injury because in 2020 I [went] back to china [twice], long quarantine after. When I started playing, I felt pain in my shoulder, arm, everywhere. So last year, the first half of the year, I didn’t win any games. I didn’t play well. I took a lot of rest and treatment.
“Last year’s 15 wins were in the second half of the year. So it looks the same. Every semester I have 15 wins. That feeling is good.”