Qinwen Zheng: "Was Rod Laver in the stands? I didn't realize it"

The Chinese tennis player, at the on court interview after her victory against Anna Kalinskaya, entertained the crowd with her words

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Qinwen Zheng: "Was Rod Laver in the stands? I didn't realize it"
© Graham Denholm / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Qinwen Zheng achieved the historic first qualification to the semi-finals in a Slam tournament, reaching this milestone today at the Australian Open 2024.

The Chinese tennis player recover the first set, to beat Anna Kalinskaya with the score of (4) 6-7, 6-3, 6-1. Twice leading by a break in the first set, Zheng felt the pressure for the big occasion, being recovered at 1-0 and 3-2, making two bad length errors with her forehand and her backhand.

Kalinskaya did well to recover from 15-40 in the seventh game and make an impact in the final part of the tie-break. The second set saw both tennis players acquire greater solidity with their serve. The eighth game changed the fate of the match: Zheng won a very tough rally on the break point and became absolute master of the court.

Qinwen Zheng
Qinwen Zheng© Julian Finney / Staff Getty Images Sport

The Russian appeared rather tired in the decisive set and requested a medical time out due to a physical problem. Zheng took advantage of Kalinskaya's tiredness, closing the match 6-1. Qualifier Dayana Yastremska will be waiting for her in the semi-final.

Zheng and the surprising words on Rod Laver

At the on court interview, the very young Chinese tennis player analyzed her match, but she also entertained the crowd, revealing that she didn't realize she had an exceptional guest who was watching her, in her stands.

"I hit very well from the baseline. The first set was very tough, after I lost it I simply told myself to stay focused and not think about what had happened. And I'm really happy to have reached the first semi-final in one Slam.

Was Rod Laver in the stands? I didn't realize! But I'm happy that a legend like him saw my match." Then, when she was told that she had made the top-10, her reaction was truly surprising: "In the top-10? Really? Nobody told me anything! It's really good news for me. That was it that I wanted," she told

The Chinese player ended the match with 10 aces and 2 double faults, 56% of first serves with 80% of the points won, in addition to 53% of points won with the second serve.

Qinwen Zheng Rod Laver Anna Kalinskaya