(January 19, 2016) Another seed fell on the women’s side of the draw on Tuesday – second seed Simona Halep lost to Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-3 in just over an hour. The 133rd ranked Zhang’s victory was her first main-draw win at any major tournament. She was 0-14 coming into Melbourne.
After the match a tearful Zhang was happy with the win ending her losing streak at Grand Slam events. “I think in my life, it’s the best tennis,” she said. “To win against a top-two player, I’m so happy, so excited.”
Zhang bested Halep with power hitting 31 winners past the Romanian.
“She had confidence,” Halep said. “She had three matches here already in the quallies. Yeah, she didn’t have fear. She hit all the balls. I think she played much better than Indian Wells few years ago, but I think I let her play her best tennis. I didn’t hit very strong and I didn’t hit with good strength.”
“I think wasn’t my good day, but I give her a lot of credit because I think she played really well. She played without fear and she hit every ball,” Halep said to media.
“So she had good rhythm. Yeah, I think I played a little bit too short in the first set. Then she was dominating me because she felt the ball really well.
“Then I tried to change. I tried to stay there. But, yeah, at 3-1 I had the chance to go three the set, the second set, but didn’t happen.
“So, yeah, she beat me. Yeah, she was better today. It’s tough. I’m really disappointed. But it’s only one day, only one match. Tomorrow, it’s a new day. I have to look forward and to stay motivated. I have many matches in forward.”
“I play really well today,” Zhang said. “Play against the great player. I feeling no more nervous, you know, because nothing to lose. So play like hundred percent good.”
Zhang’s parents traveled with her to Melbourne to watch her play, just a few months ago, she considered retiring and making the Australian Open her last tournament.
“Okay, retire, no problem, nobody said, No. But I’m feeling no, I want come back. I want try one more time, only one more time, yeah. If no good, I say, Okay, I will try last tournament Australia Open. If Australia Open not good, maybe finish tennis.
“But I never think I can win in the here, win the first round.”
“Before, my father never come to watch I play, she said. “This is first time he travel with me. And also my mom. So this is big-time for me. Because I think, Oh, maybe this is last time in Australia Open, so I wanted they coming to maybe see last match in Melbourne.
“I want they come to see the last 20 years what I’m do. This is my life already like 20 years. They never see. So I want they feeling what I’m do. So, yeah, this is so lucky my parents coming and I win.”
Halep has now lost in the first round at the Australian Open three times in the past five years.
Earlier in the day, eighth seed Venus Williams also lost in the first round.