Zheng Jie is convinced she is on her way to reach the group of highest-ranked players, after defeating Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in her opening match at the Aegon Classic on Tuesday.
Zheng helped fuel Chinese tennis after becoming the country’s first player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final in 2008 at Wimbledon, when she made history two years later by winning the first ever doubles title.
Although the 28-year-old player has not fully recovered from wrist surgery, she won a see-saw struggle with a dangerously hard-hitting Russian.
“It’s really good to be back on grass and I aim to be back in the top 20 again,” said Zheng, who was ranked No. 32.
She will play against 76th-ranked Anne Keothavong of Britain in the second round.
The 11th-seeded Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic was also ousted after losing her opening match 6-2, 6-1 to Tara Moore of Britain.
Melanie Oudin of the US ousted another seeded player after the first round by defeating 10th-seeded Sorana Cirstea of Romania 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Later two other seeds, Timea Babos of Hungary and Elena Baltacha of Britain, were in trouble, and left to consider the possibility of defeat overnight, as darkness halted play.
Baltacha, the No. 15, lost the first set 4-6 against Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan, but was 3-2 up in the second when the evening closed in.