NEW YORK (AP) — Peng Shuai got so frustrated with her inability to make a serious run at a major title that she nearly quit the sport in 2006, a thought that crossed her mind only once before — when she had surgery to repair a heart defect at age 12.
Her day finally came Tuesday, when Peng beat 17-year-old Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-1 in the U.S. Open to earn a spot in a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time in 37 tries. Only five women have participated in more major tournaments before getting to a final four.
"My coach, my parents, they always tell me to try to keep going and never, ever give up," said the 28-year-old Peng.
Before her run at Flushing Meadows, she had reached the fourth round of a major tournament five times but had never advanced further in a career going back to 2001.
The 39th-ranked Peng becomes the third Chinese player to make a major semifinal after two-time Grand Slam champion Li Na and Zheng Jie, a two-time semifinalist.
Peng has not lost a set and kept up that consistency against Bencic, hitting 24 winners and committing only seven unforced errors. Her young opponent, meanwhile, appeared to become unglued in the muggy, 92-degree heat of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 58th-ranked Bencic was the youngest quarterfinalist at Flushing Meadows since her mentor, Martina Hingis, won the title at 16 in 1997. Bencic is coached by Hingis' mother, Melanie Molitor.
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