China's Wang inspired by late coach amid US Open run

New York (AFP) –

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Wang Qiang said the memory of her former coach Peter McNamara, the late Australian Davis Cup tennis star and Wimbledon doubles champion, was helping drive her breakthrough run at the US Open.

The Chinese 18th seed is enjoying her best Grand Slam showing in New York and qualified for the quarter-finals Sunday after a 6-2, 6-4 defeat of reigning French Open champion Ashleigh Barty.

"I think I'm really focused on the court, really enjoyed the way I played. I'm so happy I won," Wang said after becoming the first woman from China to reach the last eight here since Peng Shuai made it to the semi-finals in 2014.

"Think I did really well today. I'm really mentally strong today. Just keep going."

However, it has proved a challenging year for Wang, 27, following the death of the McNamara in July.

McNamara, a popular figure on the men's and women's tours, passed away at the age of 64 after a battle with prostate cancer.

"He helped me a lot. It was really tough to me to hear he passed," Wang said.

"I think he has always been there with me."

Wang had worked with McNamara since 2015 until the start of this year, when the Australian's deteriorating health made it harder to travel, ending a partnership that coincided with her cracking the top 20 last season.

"He told me how to play the match. He took me to the professional tennis. So that's how he taught me," Wang said.

"He always believed in me. He told me I can be the top player."

Wang could face Serena Williams, who is seeking a 24th career Grand Slam title to match Margaret Court's all-time record, for a spot in the last four.

Wang was unsure if she would watch the match between Williams and 22nd seed Petra Martic, leaving that duty to her new coach, Thomas Drouet.

"I think that's my coach's homework," she said. "I just want to enjoy now and my coach will tell me how to play next.

"I need recover for my body and we will talk about the match tomorrow."