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Feature: Brushing past trophy at Wimbledon, Zhang Shuai eyes on next dream-pursuing chance

Zhang Shuai (R)/Elise Mertens react with their trophies at the awarding ceremony after the women's doubles final match between Zhang Shuai (China)/Elise Mertens (Belgium) and Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic at Wimbledon Tennis Championship in London, Britain, on July 10, 2022. (Xinhua/Li Ying)

Finishing 2nd in the women's doubles pairing with Belgian Elise Mertens at Wimbledon, China's top-ranked player Zhang Shuai is looking forward to the U.S. Open with her new doubles partner Laura Siegemund of Germany.

WUHAN, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Despite coming within a whisker of winning the doubles title with Belgian Elise Mertens at Wimbledon, China's top-ranked player Zhang Shuai had no regrets nor schedules for a holiday.

"I don't need a vacation. I'm looking forward to the next competition, and I'll continue to work hard for my dream," said Zhang, a two-time Grand Slam doubles title holder.

Before the Wimbledon Championships, Zhang had played together with Mertens only once. But the pair, as the top seeds, showed their prowess to storm into the semifinals with four straight-set victories and only missed one set before the final at Wimbledon.

Their opponents in the final were second-seeded Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, who had won four Grand Slam double titles together. The Czechs were crowned champions by beating Mertens/Zhang 6-2, 6-4.

Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova and Elise Mertens/Zhang Shuai (L to R) react with their trophies on the awarding ceremony. (Xinhua/Li Ying)

After the match, instead of getting down, Zhang spoke highly of the Czech duo.

"They really played very well," said the first-time Wimbledon finalist. "Technically, their skills sometimes overwhelmed us and that's why it looked like we didn't play as well as we had done in the previous rounds."

"I can accept such a result. And through the match, I saw my growth space and the gap between me and others," said Zhang, adding that she already set herself a goal for the beautiful Wimbledon trophy.

Zhang Shuai (1st R)/Elise Mertens (2nd R) greet Barbora Krejcikova (2nd L)/Katerina Siniakova after the women's doubles final match. (Xinhua/Li Ying)

Though Zhang and Mertens made a great pair, the Belgian will reunite with her former teammate Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, and Zhang will embrace a new partner, Laura Siegemund of Germany on Tuesday.

"I need a relatively fixed teammate to play more matches together," said Zhang. "Both Laura and I had clinched a doubles title in the U.S. Open. We'll compete in the U.S. Open with good memories and hope for good luck this year."

After the Wimbledon championship, Zhang ranks 37th in singles and 2nd in doubles in the world rankings, both of which are the highest among Chinese players.

"I used to wrestle with a lost ball or a lost match, but now I'm more open-minded and more likely to accept everything on the court, and therefore I can play better," said Zhang, who started to play tennis at the age of five.

Now, for the 33-year-old dream pursuer, tennis is not about competing against anyone else, but a way to draw out her potential and gain joy from it.

"No one can win all the time, and no one can stop me from working hard all the time," she noted. ■