Peng Shuai was destined for stardom the moment she turned professional in 2001 when she was only 15 years of age.
Not even a heart surgery when she was 12 years old dampened her spirits to excel in the game.
“I’ve been playing all this while with no problem. It was something I was born with and had to undergo a surgery,” said Peng Shuai who has not looked back since then.
But the BMW Malaysian Open third seed and world number 19 ,who hails from China, has yet to win a WTA title and that remains her goal in every WTA tournament she participates.
She defeated Austria’s Yvonne Meusburger 6-1,4-6,6-2 in the opening round and will play Kristyna Plisikova of the Czech Republic for a place in the last eight.
Among the big names that have fallen to the Chinese star are Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina, Kim Clijsters, Martina Hingis, Amélie Mauresmo, Francesca Schiavone, Jelena Janković, Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwańska, and even compatriot and Asian No. 1 Li Na.
“I have been so close many times but was unable to win. I hope that can change soon and my goal is to do better in Grand Slam events,” said Peng Shuai.
The Asian Number 2 is hoping to land the BMW Malaysian Open title at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort, for she feels at home in Kuala Lumpur. She was listed to play last year but withdrew at the last minute.
“I wanted to play but could not arrange for a visa in time. Many things here remind me of China and the people here speak my mother tongue too. It feels like I am in Hong Kong,” said Peng Shuai.
“I prefer the hard court too and honestly the courts here suit my game. I did not realize that I was seeded so high as I wanted to come and enjoy a good time, without undue pressure. So much so I did not even pay notice to who else was coming initially.”
Peng Shuai, who usually partners Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Su-Wei in doubles, explained why she opted against playing the doubles this time.
“It has been a hectic schedule so far. I played singles and doubles in Doha and Dubai before getting here. I wanted to take a break. I intend to resume the doubles duty in Indian Wells,” she added.
“Among my targets this year is to stay injury free and keep fit. So the decision not play in the doubles is a safety precaution against getting injured”
Peng Shuai resumed training under coach Allen Ma in December 2010 after going separate ways for several years. She reckons that Ma is more than just a coach to her.
“He helps with everything, even my personal issues. It was only logical for me to get him back as coach. I need to train a lot and avoid getting injured,” she added.
The 2010 Asian Games champion will represent China at the London Olympics later year.
“It will be held on grass and I don’t like playing on it. But it is held every year and will be a big event for the whole of China. All the Chinese players will want to do well as winning medals at the Olympics means a lot.”
“But it’s only in July so I will focus of the WTA tournaments for now,” she added.