Latest 31 Dec 2012

Defending champion hoping for a more relaxed 2013

Defending champion hoping for a more relaxed 2013

ASB Classic defending champion Zheng Jie says despite her win in Auckland last January it was a stressful year for the world no.26. The Chinese no. 2 really felt the pressure to perform at the Olympics.

“The Grand Slams are four times a year, but the Olympics are only once every four years”, Zheng told the Auckland media.

“The pressure was hard but in my life I won’t have many chances to play the Olympics so I tried to enjoy it. In 2013 I hope I can enjoy my tennis more and be more relaxed.”

The 29-year-old believes that the ASB Classic is now her “lucky” tournament after her win last year.

Her husband and coach encouraged her to embark on the long journey to New Zealand because there is only one major tournament here a year, whereas China hosts several tournaments annually.

“The volunteers, hotels, everything is the same so I feel comfortable and I know the court.”

She has returned to Auckland despite a tennis tournament being held in her home country at the same time. The new tournament in Shenzhen offers twice the prize money of the ASB Classic but Zheng feels that New Zealand is the best place to start her new year.

Zheng is one of China’s most successful tennis players. She was the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon in 2008, and she also made the semifinals at the 2010 Australian Open. Zheng has 14 WTA doubles titles including two Grand Slams at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006.

She will play American Jamie Hampton in her first round match of the 2013 ASB Classis with their clash kicking off tonight’s evening session from 7pm at the ASB Tennis Arena.

2012 was a great year for Hampton who leapt up the world rankings from 137 to 70. She reached the quarterfinals in Osaka in October, and her season featured a handful of wins over top 30 players including Jelena Jankovic in Indian Wells and Daniela Hantuchova in the opening round at Wimbledon.