Catching up with Zheng Jie
Zheng Jie started the year in style with a win in Auckland at the 2012 ASB Classic. She beat Svetlana Kuznetsova and Flavia Pennetta on her way to the title. Since then, her ranking has steadily climbed from 48 at the start of the year to her current 32, behind her 4th round berth at the Australian Open, a semifinal run in Birmingham and 3rd round run at Wimbledon.
We recently caught up with Zheng Jie in Cincinnati, where she played singles and doubles in the Western and Southern Open. She and partner Katarina Srebotnik (2005 ASB Classic singles champ and 2011 ASB Classic doubles champ) finished runners up in the doubles, losing to 2012 ASB Classic doubles champions Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova.
Tennis Auckland: You recently competed in the London Olympics. How was your experience this year?
Zheng Jie: Of course the Olympics are different every time. This was my third time playingthe Olympics but we had a little bit of bad luck in the QF and we lost to Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova (Zheng Jie and partner Peng Shuai lost a tight 5-7 7-6 4-6 match to the eventual bronze medallists). It was a tough match but I really enjoyed playing the Olympics because you feel the whole country behind you giving you more support.
You played an amazing match at Wimbledon against Serena Williams. How do you look back at that match now? It was such a great battle.
I very much like to play the grass courts and also on the grass court playing Serena is a big challenge for every player because she has a big serve so it's very difficult. I think I did so well in this match and it was very close. I look forward to next time.
Do you look at it and think, wow I played her the closest that anyone did during Wimbledon, during the Olympics during the great run she had? Does that make you feel quite proud that you're the one who got the most games off her in her great run that she had?
A little bit. I've played her three times at Wimbledon. Every four years we play at Wimbledon! After the match, she told me 'oh you played a crazy match!' I think it was a good match for us.I think it was my best match for this year.
You've had a back injury this year and had to pull out of the recent Montreal tournament. How are you feeling now?
It's a little bit difficult as we have many tournaments and travel a lot. We cannot make sure every time that our body is healthy but right I am feeling better and better.
You are looking to be in the top 32 seeds again at the US Open. How are you feeling going into New York this year?
Every grand slam is very important for tennis players. It's also exciting and I look forward to it but I just want to try my best. Because I played many years in the tour, so I know how to stay more relaxed and keep things simple.
You filmed a very funny video in Auckland this year with James McOnie. Did you watch it? Did you laugh and think it was funny?
Yeah I watched it. I laughed. I think it's different style for me for my friends and for everyone. So expressive. After the video everyone saw me and [pretends to wipe dust of her shoulder]. It's very funny. After the video my best friends called me and said 'you're crazy" I never knew you could be like this!"
We hope it didn't scare you away from coming back to Auckland next year. We hope to see you again?
I hope to come back, yeah. I like the tournament.