Zhang Shuai of China in action against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.

Zhang Shuai said a group of promising Chinese players who have grown up training together were ready to shine as she breezed into the Australian Open second round yesterday.

Zhang rescued her failing career with her run to last year’s Melbourne quarterfinals and, now seeded 20th, she impressed again with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Belarus’ Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

The 27-year-old world No. 23 said she wasn’t the only player from Tianjin who could make an impact, as close friend Duan Yingying also won her first match.

“I’m really happy for everyone. So many young players now are playing so well. We come from the same city,” Zhang said.

“Since eight or nine years old, we’ve been training in the same training center so I’m really happy to see so many players from my country and my city play well. I hope they can play better and better.”

China has been waiting for another breakthrough player since the 2014 retirement of two-time grand slam winner Li Na.

Duan, also 27, won in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 against Rebecca Sramkova, and can achieve her best grand slam performance yet if she beats American Varvara Lepchenko in round two.

Peng Shuai, who also lives in Tianjin and reached the US Open semifinals in 2014, joined Zhang and Duan in the second round with a 6-0, 7-6 (5) win over Russian Daria Kasatkina.

And Tianjin’s Wang Qiang is among four Chinese women who will play their first-round matches in Melbourne today.

Before last year’s Australian Open, Zhang had never won a grand slam main-draw match and was on the verge of quitting.

Shanghai Daily

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