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Tennis star forced to stay coachless after mentor ditched her for Naomi Osaka

Qinwen Zheng confirmed that she would be without a coach for the rest of the season after Wim Fissette ditched her for Naomi Osaka. The Belgian started working with the world No 23 over the summer but split with her following the US Open, later confirming it was to join back up with Osaka ahead of her return to competition.

Zheng announced the news of their split following her recent gold medal victory at the Asian Games. The 20-year-old continued her partnership with fitness coach Rob Brandsma, who is also helping her on the coaching front during practice sessions.

The Chinese tennis star has since announced that she will be coachless for the coming weeks, claiming it was difficult to find someone so late in the year. “I definitely have ideas, but it’s definitely not easy at this stage because we are in the season, so I think that I will have to play alone for the rest of the season,” Zheng said after her defeat in Beijing.

“But I feel that now is the time to test myself. I don’t feel that I can’t play well without a coach. Instead, this is an opportunity for me, which can make me more independent and learn how to deal with different situations on the court when the coach is not around. Although this is not a long-term choice, but in the short term it’s also an opportunity to gain experience for me.”

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Zheng has been competing in China for the first time, with tennis returning to her home nation following a four-year hiatus. She had a tough draw at the WTA 1000 in Beijing, facing fifth seed Elena Rybakina in the opening round where she lost 6-1 6-2.

The event marked her first appearance on the regular tennis tour since losing in the quarter-final of the US Open – after which she split with Fissette. Speaking during the Asian Games, Zheng explained: “During the US Open I knew he had contact with the team of Osaka.

“Right after the [quarter-final] match, he said to me that he felt like he had no connection with me. He never said that to me before.” The renowned tennis coach later told her that he would be working with Osaka.

She added: “I cried after hearing that. There were no fights, no arguments in our collaboration. I thought that was an unethical end to that collaboration. I understand that Osaka can provide a better offer to him. I understand from his perspective this might be a better position. He has a family to support. I understand his decision, but it doesn’t mean I will forgive him for making such a decision.”

After Zheng and Fissette started their partnership over the grass season, she was able to win her first WTA Tour title in Palermo and later reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final in Flushing Meadows. Fissette previously worked with Osaka from 2020 to 2022, with the pair announcing their split a couple of months before the Japanese star took a break from the tour to give birth.

The four-time Grand Slam champion is now eyeing a comeback at the Australian Open in January and will be working with Fissette once again as she prepares to return to the tennis tour.



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