New York: When the U.S. Open began, Peng Shuai said she did not relish being the highest-ranked Chinese player in the tournament, preferring it when Li Na is around, absorbing most of the pressure and attention from the Chinese fans who have become quite a cheering section in Flushing Meadows in recent years.
But with the third-ranked Li missing the tournament with a knee injury, Peng has leapt into the spotlight and soared through the draw, ousting the Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic in the quarterfinals Tuesday, 6-2, 6-1.
At 28, Peng is enjoying a rather late coming-out party. The U.S. Open is her 37th Grand Slam tournament and she was playing in her first singles quarterfinal. Now, she will give her ranking (39th) and her newly devoted fans a boost by playing in her first semifinal, against the winner of Tuesday night's match between 10th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki and 13th-seeded Sara Errani in the semifinals Friday.