Zhang keen to play down expectations

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Zhang Shuai made history to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

China's Zhang Shuai is keen to keep a low profile despite being in the spotlight after a fairytale run to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open.

Having just turned 27 last month, the Tianjin native's breakthrough performance at Melbourne Park boosted her WTA ranking from 133rd to 65th in the world, the highest among Chinese players.

"I hope the media and fans treat me like the way they did before instead of giving me too much attention," Zhang said in Shanghai while watching the Australian Open men's singles final with fans on Sunday. "I gave all I had in Australia, especially in the (fourth round) match against Madison Keys. The result worked in my favor because I was not under pressure."

Zhang came through qualifying to enjoy a seven-game winning streak before losing to Britain's Johanna Konta in the quarterfinals. She described her performance as an "unexpected dream journey" after previous struggles at the slams.

After the retirement of two-time grand slam winner Li Na, Chinese fans have been clamoring for another tennis icon in the country. However, Zhang said it would be wrong to compare her with Li Na.

"I am wary of too much expectation from others, because I don't want to disappoint them. All this while, the pressure I felt came only from myself.

"Fans recognized me on the streets of Melbourne and at the airport. ... I only just won a few games. Think about Li Na and (Roger) Federer, it feels like they don't have a life of their own."

Zhang's next tournament is the Qatar Open in Doha later this month with the Rio Olympic Games also in her plans.

"I just want to enjoy my career and the sport. I don't want to be overpraised after a win or overcriticized after a bad day (on the court)," Zhang said.

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