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A decade after Li Na won the Australian Open title, another Chinese woman will contest the final at Melbourne Park, after Zheng Qinwen defeated Dayana Yastremska 6-4, 6-4.


The 21-year-old – who was ranked outside the top 100 during the 2022 Australian Open – proved too consistent for the 23-year-old Ukrainian in a one-hour-and-forty-two-minute contest on Rod Laver Arena.


The feeling was incredible to arrive at my first Grand Slam final. That's [been] my dream since I was a kid. So, I'm really happy, but I know there is still another fight to go,” Zheng revealed post-match.


Having become the first qualifier in forty-six years to reach the Australian Open semi-finals, Yastremska came out aggressive on return, breaking the twelfth seed to take a 2-0 lead.


However, an errand service game with four double faults saw the world number ninety-three gift the break straight back and shift the momentum in favour of Zheng.


Falling behind a break for the first time at 4-3, Yastremska took an off-court medical timeout due to an abdominal issue, causing a seven-minute delay to action.


As play finally re-commenced, Zheng remained composed to close out the opening set 6-4.


After both players headed to the locker room between sets, it was the now top-10 ranked woman from China who started stronger in the second.


The 21-year-old found an early break, which was instantly restored by Yastremska before claiming the Ukrainian’s serve once again to take a stranglehold of the match.


This time, Zheng’s serve held strong to earn herself a career-best victory and end Yatsremska’s dream run in Melbourne.


I'm very proud of myself. I'm not sad about the loss and still think it was a great tournament for me,” the qualifier said post-match.


Albeit a surprising finalist, Zheng’s run will not shock avid fans with the 21-year-old having won multiple titles in 2023, before reaching the US Open quarterfinals in September.


The 21-year-old will be the underdog against Aryna Sabalenka – who enters the final on a thirteen-match winning streak at Melbourne Park – and is well aware of the Belarusian’s power.


She’s one of the biggest hitters right now on the tour. She got the biggest serve, forehand, and a big backhand. She's a really complete player,” Zheng told the media.


I haven't faced big seeds in the past rounds, and she will be the first one I will face. But it is a match, so let's see what going to happen in the final.”


Having watched on as an 11-year-old in China as Li Na lifted the 2014 Australian Open trophy, Zheng is seeking to follow in her idol’s footsteps and will draw on her advice.


She means a lot to all Chinese kids. I think she's the first who won the slams. That’s unbelievable for an Asian woman in that moment. She gives me a lot of hope,” revealed Zheng ahead of Saturday’s final.


She [Li Na] told me, don’t think too much. Just go for it.”


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