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Zheng and Yan avoid local food in Paris

MAYBE it's something in the food that has turned Zheng Jie and Yan Zi into China's pre-eminent doubles team.

The two-time grand slam doubles champions are bidding for their first French Open title, but instead of enjoying the local fare with other Chinese players like Peng Shuai and Li Na, they have been cooking Chinese food in their hotel room near the Eiffel Tower.

"I do the rice," said Zheng, who also reached the singles semifinals at Wimbledon last year. "Peng Shuai knows how to cook. And we eat together."

Zheng and Yan won China's first grand slam title at the 2006 Australian Open, and added a second at Wimbledon that same year.

Now they're looking forward to a sustained run at Roland Garros, where they advanced to the second round by beating Edina Gallovits of Romania and Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-4, 6-2 in the first round on Tuesday.

"No matter where you're a champion, you're happy," Yan said.

Zheng and Yan made it to the semifinals at the French Open in 2006, but they found it tough in the first round this time. "It was hard to relax at first but it got better as we played on," Yan said.

Zheng added: "We'll take it one step at a time."

The exploits of the pair combined with the success of Peng and Li on the WTA Tour have helped tennis grow in China. "There are now more people in China who like to watch tennis," Zheng said.


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