Jie Zheng of China has eliminated women’s 31st seed Alona Bondarenko in what was a bizarre fourth-round match at Hisense Arena on Sunday.
The 7-6(5) 6-4 win for Zheng was riddled with unforced errors from both players. The Chinese avenged her quarter-final loss to Bondarenko in the Moorilla Hobart International lead-up tournament, which was eventually won by the Ukrainian.
The first set saw six breaks of serve, and Bondarenko held set points at 5-4 before being broken. It seemed that neither player could hang onto a lead, and it was Zheng who was able to finally capitalise on errors by her opponent to win the set in a tight tie-breaker.
In the second set, more of the same ensued, with multiple breaks of serve being gifted by both players with double faults and repeated errors. Again, world No.35 Zheng managed to edge out Bondarenko, holding serve when it mattered to reach the quarter-finals.
After her sister Kateryna was eliminated in round two of the Open, Bondarenko looked in ominous form, coming off the Hobart win and dumping former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic out in straight sets. But on Sunday she was erratic, becoming visibly agitated at her inability to keep balls in play. She was not alone in that regard, the two sharing 76 unforced errors evenly to just 27 winners in a contest that was difficult to watch at times.
The fourth-round win is Zheng’s best result in Melbourne, having fallen in the round of 16 last year. The victory means that she has now knocked out seeded players in three consecutive rounds after defeating Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, the 24th seed, and then upsetting 11th seed Marion Bartoli of France in round three.
Zheng faces a difficult assignment next, as she will meet the winner of this afternoon’s match between 2009 finalist Dinara Safina and her compatriot Maria Kirilenko, who caused the tournament’s first upset on Day 1 when she defeated 2008 champion Maria Sharapova.
- While both players amassed 38 unforced errors, Zheng had twice as many winners as her opponent (18-9).
- Zheng served at 80 per cent (70-for-88) for the match, and won 50 per cent of points on her first serve.
- Bondarenko won just six of 18 points on her second serve throughout the match.