Peng hopes to match Li Na's heroics in US

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China's Peng Shuai entered the US hard court season with a career-high ranking and now holds hopes of some day matching the heroics of her trailblazing countrywoman, Li Na.

Li became the first Chinese to win a grand slam singles title when she took the French Open in June, winning worldwide acclaim and marking another milestone in China's rapid rise as a force in the women's game.

Twenty-five year-old Peng has taken heart at her compatriot's triumph at Roland Garros at the age of 29, and believes she might be in for some late blooming herself.

"I think Asian players grow up later," Peng, who has soared to 17 from a world ranking of 72 at the start of the year, told a small group of reporters at the San Diego Open. "It took me five years to break the top 20 but I'm really happy I never gave up."

Like lion-hearted Li and Zheng Jie, who became China's first grand slam singles semifinalist at Wimbledon in 2008, Peng has prospered from the Chinese Tennis Association's landmark decision in 2009 to allow its top women players to organize their own touring, coaches and training programs.

Where all but a handful of elite Chinese athletes are subject to gruelling training, Peng has enjoyed renewing her relationship with coach Alan Ma.

Ma guided a teenaged Peng into the top 50 in his first coaching stint in 2004-05 and has helped her become the third Chinese player after Li and Zheng to crack the top 20 since taking over again last July.

"The last few years weren't stable for me because I had injuries and changed coaches so many times, but now it's all coming together," said Peng, who broke now ground for herself by making the fourth rounds of the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year.

"Alan and I understand and trust each other a lot. The coach is the mirror (of yourself)."

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