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October 6, 2016

Shuai Zhang

Beijing, China


6-0, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. What does this win mean to you, beating Halep in China?
ZHANG SHUAI: Yeah, very big win today. After Australia Open, this is second time we meet this year. I feeling I play much more better than Australia Open because I have more confidence, yeah. Especially we are in the China Open, my favorite tournament, so I'm really happy.

Q. At the end of last year you were thinking about retiring. Now you've had the best year of your career. What are you thinking now? How are you feeling?
ZHANG SHUAI: Amazing, yeah, because last year in China Open I feeling really, really tired. I almost retire. Yeah, I'm so lucky I'm continue to play. Yeah, I'm try one more tournament, Australia Open, and everything change.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Chinese.

Q. In 2016, this is the second time to beat Halep. Did you find some secret to beating her?
ZHANG SHUAI: No special secrets in beating Halep. I found myself really familiar with her skills. I found it's relatively easy for me to beat her. Halep did a great job. My coach asked me to learn from her. I watched a lot of her videos and tried to learn her special movements and skills. So I learned lots from her.

I also tried to be a very aggressive player. Now we are in the China Open, I'm really motivated and confident. I received lots of support from the fans and the crowd. As luck would have it, I made a very happy win.

THE MODERATOR: More questions in English.

Q. When you think back on the last 12 months from how you felt here at the China Open last year to now, what has that journey been like for you?
ZHANG SHUAI: The very big different life I feeling. Yeah, last year I feeling really down. I feeling really sad. I feeling I working hard but never won, never play good, never play well.

So, yeah, this year everything change. I feeling much more confident on court. When I want to go cross-court, the ball go cross-court. When I want to go down the line, they go down the line. I can control everything on court.

I feeling everything working, yeah. Feeling good. I like this tennis.

Q. What is it that you've changed to allow this transformation? Was it something in training or in fitness or personally?
ZHANG SHUAI: I just, yeah, keep working hard. Just try do more hard. Yeah, because I never give up. I feeling mentally much stronger than before, more positive, also more aggressive. So try to play fast, yeah.

My serve much better than before. I working a lot. So, yeah, I think a lot big change my tennis.

THE MODERATOR: More questions in Chinese.

Q. In the third set, you did a great job. Any reasons behind your great start? How are you going to bring out the best functions of your physical strengths?
ZHANG SHUAI: In each of the China Opens I really find it was a great timing. I will not to special preparations. Every time on the Diamond or Lotus, I bring my potential into full play.

If I look back, from the first WTA win seven years ago, the first time I was in China Open, I felt the luck was always with me when I'm in the China Open. The China Open brings me energy, luck and great results.

After seven years, I made a new breakthrough. I broke my record. This is the first time I see the highest ranking and scores. The beginning of the three matches are great. In the beginning, it's very hard for me to play well. But now I've become more aggressive. This brings me new feelings and experience.

Q. Tomorrow afternoon you will play against Konta. It's your third time to meet her. Will you do a special preparation for tomorrow?
ZHANG SHUAI: Not really. It's too early for me to make adjustments. Let's find out what will be happening tomorrow. I'm looking forward to playing with her. Over the past few years we both moved up our rankings from more than 100 to 30 for me and now she's ranked 10 to 20. We are moving from the bottom step by step.

We were among the earliest players to have training programs. She's a really diligent and intelligent player. We respect each other. Last week after the game, both of our coaches talked to each other about our progress and changes.

They also exchanged notes. We are competitors, but also good friends. Every time we played against top players, we learn a lot. What we learn is more important than the win or loss.

Q. From the Rio Games to the China Open, you have been working very hard. The season is about to end. After at the conclusion of the season, what kind of preparations will you take?
ZHANG SHUAI: I have not thought it over. The season is not over yet, so I'm not going to think what will be happening after that. To be a great player, I have to be patient. I treasure each of the opportunities to meet different players.

My attention is on the next match. I have not thought what will be happening after the season.

Q. The WTA has several levels of rankings. You are approaching the top 20. Are you confident enough to regard yourself as one of the top players?
ZHANG SHUAI: It's too early for me to tell you how good I am. We should wait and see. One day I will be one of the top 20. We have rankings and scores. We have to respect it instead of looking at yourself from another perspective.

I just respect the rankings. I'm very happy to move up from 200 to 30. I will press ahead in 2016. I'm very lucky to beat some of the top-10 players or top-20 players. It's a rare opportunity for me to do so. It's also my dream.

As of today, I see my progress. This is what makes me happy. I hope that I can maintain my efforts. This is how I'm going to climb the rankings.

Q. You are approaching your ranking target before the timetable you set for yourself. Are you going to set new rankings in your winter training program? Do you have specific plans?
ZHANG SHUAI: I can only say I'm going in the right direction. It is really great. I hope that I can get stronger and stronger. I hope that I can move up step by step, but not too fast. I hope that my results will be based on my efforts. I hope that I can be one of the top players based on my skills and efforts.

I do not dream of becoming a champion overnight. I hope that I can do everything slowly but steadfastly. I'm very happy to share with you that this is how I am climbing the rankings now.

We need time. We must be patient and take it slowly.

Q. The fans have given you some nicknames. You are very lucky to get rid of all the funny nicknames. If you look back and find Sosa funny nicknames, how do you deal with them?
ZHANG SHUAI: I don't care about those funny nicknames. Some people call me Mr. Shuai at breakfast because I'm a strong fan of breakfast. The first time I played tennis, I was laughed at by some of the fans. The reason for me to be receiving the nickname of 'breakfast' is because I gave breakfast to my teammates on a daily basis.

As a young tennis player, I was very inexperienced. I knew nothing about the events, the tennis world. Gradually I gained experience. I know how to cope with my colleagues. Nobody laughed at me. I insisted I did not give in or give up.

Q. You're really good at giving us answers in the Q&A session.
ZHANG SHUAI: Thank you for your appreciation.

Q. In the past you were kind of an introvert. Now that you are gaining experience, you've become more positive and open. You don't care too much about the losses or wins. Your mental helps you to be a great player.
ZHANG SHUAI: I experienced consecutive losses. It's very hard for me to talk to others when I feel down. Nobody wants to listen to me. I don't think this is a world where pity will go to the loser.

The only thing you have to do is to become the winner. If you are a winner, you can share with others the tragedies you are experiencing. I do not need tears. If I lose the game, I will stand up, get myself trained, and win.

In 2015, I thought of retirement because of my consecutive losses. But this year I've come back. Today I share with you stories from the perspective of a champion. You are patient to listen to me because I'm a winner now. If I'm a loser, you will be away. Most of the reporters will be away. Nobody will put up with me, and I would have nothing to say. If I lost the game, the knowledge only thing I like to do is just cry.

But thank you very much for being with me. My friends, my fans, and even you reporters are staying with me. Thank you very much again for your efforts and company.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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