Tim Henman gives big Zheng Qinwen Grand Slam verdict after Australian Open run

Ewan West
Qinwen Zheng
Qinwen Zheng of China poses after defeating Anna Kalinskaya of Russia.

Tim Henman has proclaimed that Zheng Qinwen is “just scratching the surface” after her run to the 2024 Australian Open final as he assessed the Chinese star’s major title chances.

The former world No 4 believes there are “so many areas” Zheng can improve her game in and is “convinced she will win majors in the future” given how good she already is.

Zheng reached her first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open final last week and was defeated 6-3, 6-2 by world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka in Saturday’s title match.

The 21-year-old became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final in singles since her idol, two-time major champion Li Na, did this at the 2014 Australian Open.

Zheng has also climbed to a career-high WTA world ranking of No 7 following the tournament – making her the second Chinese singles player to be ranked in the top 10 after Li.

READ MORE: 2024 WTA Rankings: Iga Swiatek No 1, Coco Gauff hits new mark, Qinwen Zheng soars, Elina Svitolina in top 20

Speaking to Eurosport, Henman expressed that he feels Zheng is just at the beginning of her journey in competing for majors and identified how she can develop further.

“I think she is just scratching the surface. She has played incredible tennis and this is a massive learning curve,” the six-time major semi-finalist said.

“I am sure it would have been painful to have been hit off the court [in the final], but I think with her work ethic and mentality and game, there are so many areas she can improve on.

“She can improve her serve. The forehand can be a weapon but can be erratic. The motivation from getting to a final and losing – I am sure she will continue working hard.

“If she is this good, with all the improvements she can make, I am convinced she will win majors in the future.”

Seven-time Grand Slam champion and former world No 1 Mats Wilander highlighted the value of having the example of Li Na and lauded Zheng’s attitude.

“She would have learned a lot from what Li Na has done over the years,” the Swede said.

“I think she will improve massively when you heard her coach talk about how hard she works, wakes up at 7am, never complains, will practice any time. It’s very refreshing to me.”

Former world No 27 Robson credited Zheng for making the most of the draw opening up and backed her to be dangerous on clay.

“She had an outstanding two weeks [at the Australian Open]. She took advantage of a wide open top half of the draw,” the Brit reflected.

“She didn’t play anyone in the top 50 before the final, but I feel she has the game on a clay court to do very well.”

READ MORE: Aryna Sabalenka ‘has every right to think she’s the best player in the world’, says former world No 1