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China's top player 'really tired' after playing 'too many matches' in WTA
CHINA'S No 1 tennis player Wang Qiang has been left "really tired" at the end of a punishing season on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tour and believes she has played "too many matches".
The world No 22 has been on a spectacular run of form recently that has seen her leapfrog Zhang Shuai to become China's top singles player.
But the gruelling schedule at the season's climax has left the 26-year-old feeling fatigued, both mentally and physically.
"It's really too much," she said. "Too many tournaments for me, too many matches. Especially the last two months."
Wang won the Guangzhou Open in September, her second career title after beating compatriot Zheng Saisai at the Jiangxi Open in July. She made the semis at the Wuhan Open but had to retire with an injury.
She impressed again in mid-October by staging an outstanding comeback to defeat former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza to reach her first Hong Kong Open final.
Asked about her eye-catching 2018 season, the modest and soft-spoken Asian Games champion who is playing in Zhuhai for the first time, said: "The top half of the year, I didn't feel so good, because my ranking went down to 91. But the last five months, I felt really good and I won a lot of matches.
"Now my ranking is 22, so I came straight into this tournament. I'm so happy to be here and play this tournament. But now, mentally and my body is really tired, so after this one I will go on holiday."
Chinese fans have warmed to Wang's personality, praising her as steely on the court but good-natured and humble off it.
She grabbed headlines at the French Open with her straight sets demolition of Venus Williams, and overcame Karolina Pliskova in both Beijing and Wuhan.
The right-hander from Tianjin has her sights set on a top-eight spot by the end of next season, when the WTA Finals tournament will take place in her home country.
"I want to play the WTA Finals in Shenzhen," when asked about her ambitions for next year.
Wang, who has so far won US$2.68 million in prize money, has been touted by some as a potential successor to Chinese tennis icon Li Na.
Li, a former world No 2, triumphed at Roland Garros in 2011 and won the Australian Open in 2014 before retiring later that year. She is one of Wang's idols and spurred a generation of tennis fans in China.
"After Li Na, tennis in China is really better than before, and now more young kids play tennis. And we have more tournaments, so it's good for Chinese tennis," said Wang.
Currently, China has three players in the top 50 - Wang at 22, Zhang at 36 and Zheng at 47 - and Wang believes the future is bright for Chinese tennis.
"It's a very good phenomenon that we have three Chinese players in the top 50, and actually there are lots of younger players who are playing better and better," she said.
"I think there will be more Chinese players in the top 50 and top 100 in the future, and that is a very good developing status for China. I also think Chinese players will have more and more opportunities to play at a global level, so I'm really happy with that."
It is this experience on the international stage that Wang believes will give Chinese players the springboard to compete for Grand Slams and break into the top handful of players in the world, like Li. AFP