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Blink and you’ll miss her: No time for Blackpink amid Zheng Qinwen’s rapid rise
The 20-year-old sits at a career-high No. 23 ranking this week, and is eager to make up for lost time after missing WTA 1000s in Dubai and Indian Wells due to injury.
Published Mar 27, 2023
FLASHBACK: Zheng Qinwen lived up to her 'Queenwen' nickname in Doha with this hot shot winner against Maria Sakkari
MIAMI, Fla.—Step aside, Roger Federer. Zheng Qinwen is the next top player coming for a coveted selfie with the massively popular Korean pop group Blackpink.
Or at least, that’s the next item on the list for the fast-rising Chinese phenom.
At this time last year, Zheng arrived at the Miami Open at a career-high No. 72 ranking, and was already showing flashes of her world-beating game. Sitting at world No. 23 this week—another career-high—Zheng is eager to make up for lost time after missing WTA 1000s in Dubai and Indian Wells due to injury.
Unfortunately, that has not left the 20-year-old much time to kick back and enjoy all the diversions Miami has to offer.
“My time is just practice, then I go back to the hotel and have dinner. We didn’t do too much crazy things,” the No. 23 seed told press with a wry grin after her third-round victory.
“Only one time we went to the shopping center for one hour, because I had to buy something necessary. That’s the only ‘different’ thing I did [in Miami].”
Zheng told Baseline before the tournament that, although she is a massive fan of Chinese rap and Korean pop, there’s never enough time for concerts either: “There's one Korean group that I'm really interested in, Blackpink,” she said. “They are very, very famous. I would love to see their concerts in real life and see how they are.”
It’s just as well, according to Zheng. The Chinese player has had to overcome a wobbly start to the season—due in part to testing out a new racquet during the Aussie Swing.
Zheng briefly traded in her usual Wilson Pro Staff—the signature racquet of her childhood idol, Federer—for a different model “to add more power.” But the result was an error-strewn performance that saw her fail to win back-to-back main draw matches in Adelaide, Adelaide 2 and the Australian Open. But soon after switching back, Zheng picked up an injury in Dubai that forced her to withdraw from her second-round match and pull out of the BNP Paribas Open.
She finally seems to have righted the ship in Miami, where she has played through two tough matches to defeat Irina Begu and No. 12 seed Liudmila Samsonova in three sets.
As she begins to pick up steam again in 2023, Zheng says she has settled into her usual routine of filling time at the hotel by reading books and manga. She describes herself as “a little bit of a ‘erciyuan’”—a Chinese fan of Japanese media—and enjoys watching anime like Detective Conan (Case Closed) during her downtime.
But while a front-row view of her K-pop favorites remains elusive, she’s all business in Miami. Zheng is eyeing a spot in her second WTA quarterfinal of the year, after Abu Dhabi, and faces No. 27 seed Anastasia Potapova on Monday.
“I think there is a lot of room for improvement,” Zheng said. “At my level right now, of course I can say that I’m able to beat anyone, but I really want to improve also at the same time.
“But not too much pressure for myself… I really want to enjoy tennis and give my best on court.”