Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

U.S. Open: Peng Shuai powers into semis; Roger Federer in last eight

updated 6:09 AM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
Peng Shuai celebrates becoming only the third Chinese tennis player to ever reach a grand slam semifinal
Peng Shuai celebrates becoming only the third Chinese tennis player to ever reach a grand slam semifinal
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Peng Shuai becomes only third Chinese player to reach a grand slam semifinal
  • Unseeded 28-year-old beats teen Belinda Bencic, next faces Caroline Wozniacki
  • Peng underwent major heart surgery aged 12 to pursue tennis dream
  • Five-time men's champion Roger Federer through to quarterfinals

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- China's population may be in excess of 1.3 billion inhabitants but only two of its players had ever reached a grand slam semifinal -- until Tuesday.

That was when unseeded Peng Shuai put years of frustration, thoughts of retirement and major heart surgery to one side as she blew away Swiss teen Belinda Bencic at the U.S. Open.

At her 37th grand slam, the 28-year-old was finally into her first semifinals.

The buildup had mainly focused on the 17-year-old Bencic but it was the little known Peng -- far more recognized as a doubles player -- who stole the show with a powerful display.

Read: Knee injury forces Li Na out of U.S. Open

By so doing, she follows in the footsteps of Li Na, a two-time grand slam winner, and Zheng Jie, who reached semifinals at Wimbledon (2008) and the Australian Open (2010).

Althea Gibson's Tennis legacy
Ana Ivanovic fights to regain number 1 status

"It's a little bit too exciting," Peng said on court after her 6-2 6-1 victory, earning a round of applause after pausing as emotion got the better of her.

"I love tennis, I love to play."

That much is clear from her back story.

Aged 12, Peng went against her family wishes to undergo a major operation to repair a fault in her heart.

The procedure was so complicated surgeons had to access her heart through her left leg but as Peng made clear in a 2008 advertisement, there was one fundamental reason she went through with it.

"All I thought was very simple: if I want to continue tennis, I need to have this operation," she said in the Adidas advert.

Nearly two decades later, her tenacity was rewarded when she achieved the No. 1 ranking in doubles.

By so doing, she became the first Chinese to ever achieve top spot -- whether in singles or doubles, male or female.

Despite the ranking, a player who has never won a singles title revealed she had been wracked by doubts in recent times.

"A career is tough sometimes," said Peng in victory. "I've thought about giving up, stopping playing (singles), because I didn't know if I can make it, but my coach and parents told me to never give up."

Li Na wins 'dream' trophy
Sharapova's agent inspired by ESPN

With her two-fisted ground strokes proving too much for a rattled Bencic, the youngest U.S. Open quarterfinalist since 1997, Peng hit 24 winners.

Although Zheng was the first Chinese player to reach a grand slam semifinal, world No. 3 Li has taken the country's tennis further.

She won its first singles grand slam at the 2011 French Open, before clinching a second title at this year's Australian Open.

No Chinese woman has ever reached the U.S. Open singles final, a record that Peng -- who has won two grand slam doubles titles in the last year -- will try to correct on Thursday.

She will meet 2009 finalist Caroline Wozniacki, who continued her career resurgence by crushing Italian 13th seed Sara Errani 6-0 6-1 later Tuesday.

The former world No. 1, who has a 5-1 career record over Peng, reached the last four of a grand slam for the first time since 2011, also in New York.

"She was much stronger than me physically tonight," said Errani, a semifinalist in 2012. "She doesn't let you play. She never misses.

"And every point was a long point, and it made me feel worse, physically."

Serena Williams is in action on Wednesday against Italy's Flavia Pennetta, but she suffered a frustrating day on Tuesday.

Becker: Reaction to coaching job surprised me
Inside Andy Murray's luxury hotel

Not only did she lose her doubles quarterfinal with sister Venus to Russian pair Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, but she also suffered an injury scare.

The world No. 1's right foot had to be heavily bandaged early in the second set of the 7-6 6-4 defeat.

In the men's event, second seed Roger Federer marched into the quarterfinals for the 10th time in the last 11 years with an aggressive 6-4 6-3 6-2 win over Spanish 17th seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

The five-time U.S. champion, seeking his first final appearance since losing the 2009 title match, came to the net 50 times as he comfortably set up a clash with French 20th seed Gael Monfils.

"I'm happy I'm able to come forward now because coming to net requires a lot of agility and explosiveness, and I have it back," said the veteran 17-time grand slam winner.

He has a 7-2 record over Monfils, beating him in three sets on the way to winning the Cincinnati title last month.

"I know exactly how I need to play him," Federer said. "I know I'll be coming in; he knows he'll be defending. He'll be wanting to serve well and play big as well."

Monfils, known for his all-action style, was in impressive form as he overcame a sluggish Grigor Dimitrov 7-5 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows for a third time.

Sixth seed Tomas Berdych will play Croatia's Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals, after the Czech beat Austria's Dominic Thiem 6-1 6-2 6-4.

Cilic, seeded 14th, came from behind to beat Richard Gasquet 5-7 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 3-6 6-3, avenging his five-set defeat by the Frenchman at January's Australian Open.

In Wednesday's opening quarterfinals, Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka takes on Japanese 10th seed Kei Nishikori, then in the late session world No. 1 Novak Djokovic plays Andy Murray in a repeat of the 2012 title match.

Read: Greatness beckons for Bencic

Read: Third time lucky for Li at Australian Open

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:08 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.
Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
updated 8:42 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
A year that began in uncertainty for Roger Federer ended with a historic title for the 17-time grand slam champion and his country.
updated 12:16 PM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
French Tennis player Rene Lacoste, one of France's 'Four Musketeers' who won the Davis Cup in 1932, at Wimbledon. He is wearing his embroidered crocodile motif. Original Publication: People Disc - HH0434 (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
updated 2:36 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Marin Cilic follows in the footsteps of his coach Goran Ivanicevic by claiming a grand slam crown for Croatia, winning the U.S. Open.
updated 9:34 AM EDT, Sun September 14, 2014
Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.
Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Canada and tennis? Really? Yup. The North American tennis power balance is swinging away from the States.
updated 8:52 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
updated 7:02 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
updated 7:01 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
updated 9:14 PM EDT, Sun June 22, 2014
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
updated 3:46 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.
ADVERTISEMENT