Yan targets another doubles triumph with new partner

Updated: 2007-06-29 10:21

Yan Zi believes she can emulate her Wimbledon doubles success with new partner Peng Shuai.

Yan had formed a formidable duo with compatriot Zheng Jie that culminated in China's first Grand Slam titles when they won the doubles at Wimbledon and the Australian Open last year.

Peng Shuai and Yan Zi clap hands with each other after strolling into the next round during the on-going Wimbeldon tennis tournament in London June 28,2007.[Xinhua]
But Zheng has been forced to miss the grass court Grand Slam with an ankle injury, leaving Yan to find a new partner at short notice. The Chinese Tennis Association announced on Wednesday night that they decided to allow Zheng to have surgery this week. The Chinese camp originally said Zheng's injury was noy serious and postponed the surgery fearing that Zheng could not recover in time to prepare for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

22-year-old Yan, who has won 10 career doubles titles, earning over $1 million in prize money, eventually settled on Peng, another Chinese player, and is confident they can quickly strike up a winning relationship.

Although they have never played together before, Yan brings a wealth of experience that makes them favorites to get off to a successful start against Ashley Harkleroad and Tzipora Obziler in the first round at the All-England Club.

"This year is different because I play with Peng Shuai and it will be our first time together," she told AFP. "I know her from singles and in doubles I played against her a few months ago. I think she is a good player.

"I don't know if we can win it. I hope so. I think we will be a good team anyway."

Yan will hope she has more luck in the doubles than she did in the singles. The Chengdu based player fought hard before eventually losing 6-3, 2-6, 3-6 to Italy's Tathiana Garbin, the 21st seed, in the first round on Wednesday.

It could have been a totally different result but for an unfortunate net cord in the final set.

Garbin had broken back after losing her serve in the opening game, but Yan was still in the match until her opponent's return clipped the net and dropped agonisingly out of reach, handing Garbin the decisive break.

"She had more luck than me today, especially with the ball that hit the net during the final set," Yan said. "It was a very important point.

"I didn't feel so comfortable because she gave me a lot of short balls that stayed very low and it was difficult to play them."

Yan's exit completed a miserable women's singles for China. Peng and Sun Tiantian had also gone out at the first hurdle, but Yan insisted there was no reason for despondency.

"Two of the top players (Li Na and Zheng Jie) didn't come because they were injured," Yan added. "Peng Shuai has just come back from injury as well. It was her first tournament in two months.

"Me, I feel I was facing a good player and Sun Tiantian felt her opponent played very well."


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