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China's Wang Qiang pulls off stunning opening-round upset at Australian Open

Editor: Chen Yue 丨Xinhua

01-18-2016 16:10 BJT

MELBOURNE, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese qualifier Wang Qiang has scored a sensational opening round win over American Sloane Stephens on Day 1 of the Australian Open (AO).

Wang knocked out Stephens, an AO semi-finalist three years ago, in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 in one of the biggest upsets of the opening day.

Despite being ranked 76 spots below Stephens, Wang controlled the game from the baseline and quickly went a set up.

The qualifier then broke in the first game of the second set, and broke Stephens another two times to close out the match. Wang became just the second player, in the women's draw, to knock out a seeded player to date, with Russian Margarita Gasparyan beating 17-seed Sara Errani.

MELBOURNE, Jan. 18, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Wang Qiang of China returns the ball during the first-round match of women

MELBOURNE, Jan. 18, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Wang Qiang of China returns the ball during the first-round match of women's singles of Australian Open Tennis Championships against Sloane Stephens of the United States at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 18, 2016. Wang won 2-0. (Xinhua/Bai Xue)

The 24-year-old was ecstatic after progressing to the second round, labelling the win the best of her career.

"(Stephens) is a good player ... I just tried my best," Wang told reporters after the match.

"It was my first time playing at Hisense (Arena), so (I was) a little bit nervous."

Wang was left blushing after a reporter compared her impressive forehand action to two-time Grand Slam champion, and compatriot, Li Na.

Stephens wasn't so jovial when she spoke to reporters following her early exit, but credited Wang and suggested her challenger's lead-up form may have proved the difference.

"She's played all this week, three solid matches," Stephens, 22, told reporters on Monday.

"She played a really good match and I wish her well in the future."

Wang will fancy her chances against her second round opponent Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany, who had not progressed past the first round of the AO until Monday' s 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 6-1 win over Lourdes Domínguez Lino.

Elsewhere, China's other hopefuls had a day to forget.

Debuting in her first Grand Slam, Wang Yafan was able to sneak a set off Greece's Maria Sakkari, but ultimately lost 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

"This is my first time to join the tournament officially. I am really happy to participate in this world class game and play against top players," Wang Yafan told reporters on Monday with the aid of a translator.

"I was really looking forward to the match before the game and was a little bit nervous of course.

"I think I'm still not that relaxed and I didn' t play my best, but was OK in general.

"I think the extra qualifying games really wore me out, and I couldn't give the best account of myself."

Earlier, Wu Di - China's only player in the men's draw - became the first player eliminated.

Austin Krajicek of the United States comprehensively outplayed his 24-year-old opponent, winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 on Court 5 earlier on Monday.

Krajicek, who is ranked 138 spots ahead of his Shanghai counterpart, smashed 13 aces and 29 winners past Wu, and also hit 12 less unforced errors.

Wu said he was confident he had the game to compete among tennis' elite despite the straight sets drubbing.

"It's my third try to get past the first round here - I'm feeling not that happy," Wu told reporters on Monday after his disappointing loss.

"But I think I'm a good player and hope I can go further (than the first round)."

Wu, China's third-highest ranked player on the ATP Tour at 240, had never made it past the first round of any Grand Slam, and didn't fair any better in his third appearance at the Australian Open against the American.

Krajicek equaled his best performance at the Australian Open progressing to the second round for the second consecutive year.

He will now play Japan's Kei Nishikori, Asia's highest ranked player, in the second round.

Despite a tough first round draw, Nishikori cruised past Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

The match shaped as a tricky opening game for the number seven seed, with his world-number-32 opponent just missing out on a seed at the first Grand Slam of the year.

But the 26-year-old kept his quest for a fifth straight apperence in the tournament's second week alive, winning inside of two hours.

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