Jie Zheng captured the Estoril Open singles title on Sunday, following the retirement of Chinese compatriot Na Li with the score level at one-set all.
For the first time in the 32-year history of the WTA Tour, two Chinese players contested a singles championship match.
Unfortunately their fourth career meeting came to an abrupt end following the conclusion of the second set, with Li experiencing cramps in her right leg.
Last year’s runner-up, Li, had taken the first set 7-6 (7-5) in 62 minutes, and the No. 8 seed appeared in confident mood of securing a first victory over Zheng.
But then muscle cramping took its toll on 24-year-old Li.
The baseline grind of the second set that included seven breaks of serve in total only heightened Zheng’s appetite for a comeback.
With the wind howling around the Estadio Nacional, No. 6 seed Zheng’s resurrection was complete with the second set 7-5, in 60 minutes.
Li’s retirement handed Zheng her second Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title and a first prize of $22,900. Zheng previously won the 2005 Hobart crown.
“I feel so good,” Zheng explained afterwards. “I feel so sorry for Li Na, but it was a good match today and I look forward to Roland Garros.”
The result caps an excellent week for Chinese tennis, with Athens Olympic gold medallists Li Ting (Senior) and Sun Tian Tian capturing the doubles title over Gisela Dulko and Maria Sanchez-Lorenzo on Saturday.