Outlasts South Korea’s Su Jeong Jang in final
Zhang wins Hawaii Open, presented by The Hawaii Tourism Authority, a year after falling to CiCi Bellis at Patsy T. Mink CORP tennis courts
By Ann Miller, Hawaii Open Staff
Waipahu, HI, Nov. 26, 2017 – A loss last year and a slow start Sunday only served as inspiration for Shuai Zhang, who won the second Hawaii Open, presented by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
A year ago Zhang, 28, lost in the final of the WTA 125K Series event to American teenager CiCi Bellis, who went on to become the WTA’s Newcomer of the Year.
Sunday at the Patsy T. Mink CORP tennis courts, the top-seeded Zhang was shut out by 22-year-old Korean Su Jeong Jang in the opening set. Zhang came back with a vengeance, winning 0-6, 6-2, 6-3, in a final that lasted just over 2 hours.
“When I lost in the finals last year I knew I had to come back here, I have to be champion,” said Zhang, who spoke about her mission here after every match. “This is my last tournament of the year and I wanted to win the tournament to finish this amazing year.”
Mission accomplished, after an erratic start that saw the world’s 36th-ranked player uncharacteristically spraying errors all over the extremely windy court.
Jang, South Korea’s top-ranked player at No. 179, took full advantage to win the opening set in 28 minutes in her WTA final debut. Her ability to run down balls and remain in rallies never wavered, but Zhang found her rhythm and a little momentum in the second set and rode it to her third WTA title — the first outside of China.
Two weeks ago, Jang lost to Zhang in Japan, winning just four games. This time it took Zhang almost an hour to win four games. She did it with her second service break of the second set and went on to even the match. She was good on 88 percent of her first serves in that set.
She would finish the match making 80 percent of her first serves and double-faulting just once in the blustery wind. Jang finished with six double faults and paid dearly.
Serving to tie the third set at 4, she double-faulted twice — the second giving Zhang a 5-3 advantage. Jang fought off two match points in the next game, but Zhang finished it with her only ace of the match.
“I was so excited this week,” said Jang, the only player to reach semifinals in singles and doubles. “Thank you for the whole thing this week. I tried my best.”
The $20,000 first prize gives Zhang $870,000 this year, and some $3.6 million in her career, highlighted by reaching the quarterfinals in last year’s Australian Open.
But Sunday, mostly she spoke of Jang.
“She played really, really hard,” Zhang said. “I’ve known her since she was a junior and she works so hard every day. Every time we play there is a very big improvement. Today she played really, really hard. She has a very good future. I think she will win next time.”
Sisters Shu-Ying and Su-Wei Hsieh finished off their remarkable run with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) win over second-seeded Eri Hozumi and Asia Muhammad in Saturday night’s doubles final. Hozumi captured the doubles title last year.
The sisters were down a set and 0-5 in the tiebreaker in their semifinal earlier Saturday. They won the last seven points to force a Super Tiebreak, then won the final eight points there — fighting off six match points — to advance.
The Hawaii Open is one of eight WTA 125K events and the only stop in the U.S. It extended its sponsorship agreement with the Hawaii Tourism Authority for another three years following last year’s inaugural event.
Tennis Channel and Fox Sports Asia had more than 100 hours of live TV coverage from the Hawaii Open this week.
For more information about the 2017 Hawaii Open visit www.hawaiitennisopen.com. Follow the Hawaii Open on Facebook @HawaiiTennisOpen.
(1) (WC) Shuai Zhang (CHN) def. Su Jeong Jang (KOR) 0-6, 6-2, 6-3
Shu-Ying Hsieh (TPE)/Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) def. (2) Eri Hozumi (JPN)/Asia Muhammad (USA) 6-1, 7-6 (7-3)
About the WTA:
The WTA is the global leader in women’s professional sport, with more than 2,500 players representing nearly 100 nations and competing for a record $139 million in prize money. The 2017 WTA competitive season includes 55 events and four Grand Slams in 31 countries. In 2016, the WTA was watched by 408 million fans on television and digital channels around the world.