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Zheng Jie Wins WTA Title

Zheng Jie thrashed Argentina's Gisela Dulko 6-2, 6-0 in the Hobart International final on Friday to become just the second Chinese to win a WTA title.

Zheng outplayed her higher-ranked opponent in a lop-sided contest to claim her first tour success and continue China's emergence in women's professional tennis.

Zheng, who also beat fourth-seeded Shinobu Asagoe of Japan earlier in the tournament, said she's surpassed her best expectations.

"I feel so good. It is my first time winning a WTA singles championship," she said. "I'm so happy."

Dulko said hitting against Zheng was like hitting against an immovable barrier.

"She played a great match... I felt like I was playing against the Great Wall of China because she didn't miss one ball," said Dulko. "She deserved to win the tournament."

Chinese women contested six WTA finals between 1995 and 1998, losing them all, before Li Na finally broke through to beat Slovakia's Martina Sucha in Guangzhou last year.

There was an even bigger success for China last year when Li Ting and Sun Tiantian won the women's doubles gold medal at the Athens Olympics.

Although it may be a few years yet until a Chinese wins a grand slam, their recent results might be a sign of things to come.

Li Na also made the semi-finals in Hobart while Peng Shuai, who still plays as an amateur, reached the last four in Sydney, the biggest women's lead-up event to the Australian Open.

Peng eventually lost out to Australia's Alicia Molik but only after claiming the scalps of French Open champion Anastasia Myskina and her Russian team-mate Nadia Petrova, ranked 13th in the world.

Zheng, 21, reached the final with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 semi-final victory over compatriot and friend Li Na, while Dulko, 19, beat Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic in their semi 7-5, 6-2.

Molik swept to a straight sets victory over Peng to set up the first all-Australian final on the WTA tour for 13 years at the Sydney International on Friday.

The power-serving sixth seed downed 80th-ranked Peng 6-4, 6-3 in 59 minutes to advance to today's final where she will play compatriot Samantha Stosur.

(China Daily January 15, 2005)

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