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Zheng, Li look to go far on grass

CHINA will have two seeds at Wimbledon for the first time this week with last year's semifinalist Zheng Jie and the in-form Li Na looking to impress at the event where they achieved their best grand slam results.

Zheng captured the hearts of many at the All England Club last year when she beat top seed Ana Ivanovic on her way to the last four as a wildcard ranked 133rd in the world.

With an Olympic doubles bronze medal from the Beijing Games and the women's tour comeback of the year award, Zheng is now ranked 16th in the world and is China's No. 1.

The 25-year-old's fairytale run to the semis last year was the best performance by a Chinese player at a major, surpassing Li's quarterfinal appearance at the grasscourt grand slam in 2006.

"I am happy with our rankings and Li Na is very gifted," Zheng, a Wimbledon doubles champion in 2006, told Xinhua.

The powerful Li is indeed talented but has a notoriously fragile temperament, which many blame for her inability to build on her breakthrough at Wimbledon three years ago.

Last week, however, she showed the impressive form that has propelled her back into the world top 20 at No. 19 when she reached the final at the Aegon Classic with victory over former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova.

The 27-year-old surrendered the title to little-known Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova.

Last year, Li was knocked out in the second round at Wimbledon but weeks later reached the last four at the Beijing Olympics. On Wednesday, however, the injury problems that have blighted her career struck again and she withdrew from the Aegon International.

Zheng had a patchy warm-up for Wimbledon, also beaten by Rybarikova at Edgbaston and then by Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak at Eastbourne.

Zheng will play German Kristina Barrois in the first round while Li takes on Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva.


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