Beijing: Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai won her first-round match at the India Open on Monday, but many of the fans seemed unsure whether it was a victory or a comeback. For a time last month, Peng, ranked 161st in the world, was an arguable villain at the Grand Slams. As an unseeded player, she was the last seed to win a match at the French Open and the first to lose in the first round at Wimbledon. She endured a similar fate at the U.S. Open, where she eventually made it to the third round before being eliminated by eventual champion Sloane Stephens.
Peng, now 31, can probably afford to take a deep breath. The unseeded Chinese star is playing in her only first-round match at a Grand Slam this year, and, at least at this point, will be back in the main draw of the U.S. Open.
The past several weeks have been the most difficult in Peng’s career. It’s unclear what was behind the unexpected quick struggles of the Beijing native. Others, like No. 4 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany, considered insecure by outsiders, have attributed their decline to a tough draw.
Peng, however, has not been shy about discussing her decisions. She said during a recent match that she was growing more fearful of making life changes or even of having to go to sleep.
“I always dreamt I’ll wake up and my life will be good,” she said. “I don’t have much chance if I don’t sleep. I went back to bed when my mind couldn’t take any more because I was afraid. But things are all the same.”
At least until some tough decision is made.