PALEMBANG, Indonesia (Reuters) – China’s Wang Qiang achieved her “big target” of booking a ticket to 2020 Summer Olympics when she successfully defended her Asian Games women’s tennis singles title on Friday.
The 26-year-old defeated Zhang Shuai 6-3 6-2 at the Jakabaring Sport Complex in an all-Chinese final to secure an automatic berth at the Tokyo Games.
“For me, the big target was to go to Tokyo,” Wang said after retaining the title she won at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
“Winning this tournament means I can go to Tokyo and that’s why I was playing. I really like Tokyo. When I go to Tokyo, I feel excited. I really love it.
“The first target is to go there and now I’ve got that. And then I just have to go and enjoy it. I enjoy Tokyo.”
It is a fitting achievement for the Tianjin-born world number 53, who spent her formative years playing in Japan and is relishing a return to the country she credits with helping to develop her fighting spirit.
Wang became only the second tennis player to win multiple gold medals in the singles event at the Asian Games, matching the feat achieved by compatriot Pan Bing, who won the men’s singles in 1990 and 1994.
“I think it was a really tough week because the weather was so hot,” she said. “I was well prepared for the tournament and I won. It was tougher than the last one.
“When you win the last one then everyone thinks you can win this one, so there was a little bit of pressure on me. But I think it’s good for me because when I have pressure I play well.
“It was a very difficult game. Last year, we played in the final of a Chinese tournament and it’s always tough. She’s a good player.”
Wang will not have much time to celebrate her victory as she will depart for New York, after a short stopover at China, to play in the opening round of the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows next week.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Jakarta; Editing by John O’Brien)