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Italian Open star 'wanted to kill my opponents' as anger got the better of her

Zheng Qinwen has admitted that she wanted to ‘kill’ her opponents after her coach abruptly left her for Naomi Osaka. Wim Fissette parted ways with Zheng in September 2023 to reunite with Japanese player Osaka.

Zheng was angered by the decision, which she claimed was an “unethical” parting, and says that she used to take out her feelings on her opponents. But after defeating Osaka in the third round of the Italian Open on Monday, the 21-year-old says she has moved on from Fissette and was able to treat Osaka as any other opponent.

Asked if she felt angered by Fissette’s departure from her team, Zheng said: “If you asked me a few months before, after we break, like, one month, two months, three months, four months, I will tell you yes, absolutely. I got really fired up, I wanted to kill my opponents. I want to, you know, put my frustration out.

“But you asked me right now, after many months six to seven months already, I would say, you know, it’s just a normal match for me. I treat her like a usual opponent.”

Zheng added that she has extra respect for Osaka after she returned to the court after giving birth.

She continued: “Of course, I have more respect to her because she come back as a mother. I think as a woman athlete that’s really not easy, I have all the respect for all the tennis player woman who come back as a mother. Cause, only woman knows how difficult is that.

“So I treat her [with] big respect like a normal opponent. Nothing to think more, just me against her, and let’s play. I will give my best anyway.”

Fissette surprisingly decided to link up with Osaka again after she returned to competitive tennis at the end of last year. The Belgian coach had joined Zheng’s team after last year’s French Open.

Zheng is now coached by Pere Riba, who she split from ahead of welcoming Fissette into her camp. The World No. 7, who reached the Australian Open final earlier this year, got the better of Osaka with a 6-2 6-4 victory in Rome.

She will play American Coco Gauff in the quarter-final on Tuesday. “I love the atmosphere. Every time I play Italy, I feel good,” Zheng said of the Italian Open.

“Always the players, we have those tournaments that we love. Playing here feels really comfortable. I would say Rome is one of the places that I love to playing here. Feels comfortable for me.”


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