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Three Chinese women sweep through

Written by: Staff

LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) With their eyes firmly set on the Beijing Olympics in 2008, three Chinese women notched up notable triumphs for the rising tennis nation at Wimbledon today.

Zheng Jie faced a tough battle against the Czech Eva Birnerova before advancing to the third round 7-6 5-7 6-3.

Relieved to have come out on top, she told Reuters afterwards: ''It was difficult today. She had a big serve and good backhand. It really is great to be here at Wimbledon for the first time.'' But she, like all the other new young hopefuls of Chinese tennis, had her thoughts firmly fixed on triumphing before a home crowd.

''With the Olympics coming to Beijing in 2008, our tennis association is giving big support to everyone,'' she said.

Sun Tian-Tian, who has already tasted Olympic glory with a doubles gold medal at Athens in 2004, had a confidence-boosting 6-3 6-4 victory over Italian Nathalie Vierin to reach the second round.

''In grand slams all matches are tough but I played well today,'' she told Reuters after her victory.

She certainly did not appear to be phased by the grass courts of Wimbledon. ''It is the same for everybody isn't it?'' she said.

A Chinese hat-trick of wins was completed by Peng Shuai who defeated Greece's Eleni Daniilidou 6-4 6-4 in the first round.

It was a notable scalp for her as Daniilidou scored a major shock at Wimbledon last year when she knocked out Justine Henin-Hardenne in the first round.

But China was keeping its big guns till last.

One of the late matches due on court pitted Li Na, China's first seeded player in a grand slam draw, against American Meilen Tu.

Li was seeded 27th for the Wimbledon championships on the back of her WTA ranking of 30th, a record high for a Chinese singles player. She beat Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano to reach the second round yesterday.

For China has been gradually making breakthrough after breakthrough into the top ranks over the last few years.

At the Australian Open in January, Zheng Jie and Yan Zi won China's first grand slam title in women's doubles and then shortly afterwards they became the first Chinese players to rank in the Top 10 in Doubles.

Reuters SHR VP0006

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