China's Zhang shocks Gasquet in Beijing

Chinese wildcard Zhang Ze pulled off a major shock on Thursday when he beat France's world number 11 Richard Gasquet to reach the China Open quarter-finals in Beijing.

While China enjoyed further success through Grand Slam-winner Li Na, who joined top seeds Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova in the women's last eight, Zhang's win was off the scale.

The 22-year-old, six foot two (188 cm) right-hander from Nanjing is ranked just 165th in the world, yet he triumphed 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 against Gasquet, the fifth seed and winner of last week's Thailand Open.

"I had a very good start, winning the first set. I played a lot against his forehand which gave me the opportunity to control the game," said Zhang, whose ranking is already the best ever by a Chinese male player.

"This is a new start. It is a very important driving force for me, because the more matches you win, the more points you are going to get and the higher ranking you will get," he added.

Gasquet admitted afterwards that his exploits in Bangkok had left him tired -- but he insisted that Zhang, who plays Germany's Florian Mayer in the next round, was worth his win.

"Last week I played a big tournament. I'm not physically 100 percent, but it's not the reason I lost," Gasquet said. "He's talented, he played aggressive and fast, and at the end he played better than me. He deserves this victory."

Elsewhere Li, who needs a good week to help her qualify for the $4.9 million season-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul, needed three sets and a tie break to overcome compatriot Peng Shuai.

Last year's French Open champion finally won 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) after almost two hours and 30 minutes, with Peng spurning a number of opportunities to win the match.

"Two days ago I had an unbelievable serve but I think I hit too many double faults. I wish I could have had a good serve in the match today," said Li, who will play defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarter-finals.

World number one Azarenka dispatched Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-3 to reach the last eight without dropping a set. She will next play Switzerland's Romina Oprandi.

"It was a little bit of a challenge today, for sure," Azarenka said. "I felt like I could have been a bit more aggressive and not hesitate so much.

"When I won that last point, I was relieved and happy to finish the match in two sets."

Second seed Sharapova, number two in the rankings behind Azarenka, defeated Slovenian qualifier Polona Hercog, ranked 90th in the world, 6-0, 6-2 at the Chinese capital's National Tennis Stadium.

Sharapova, 25, had beaten Romania's Simona Halep 7-5, 7-5 in the first round and Sorana Cirstea, also of Romania, 6-2, 6-2 in round two.

"I had a long first round, even though it was two sets, but today and yesterday was definitely a little bit quicker," Sharapova said.

"I played really well in the beginning and got a little tense in the second set, but I felt like I really needed that challenge. It's nice to be in the quarter-final stage of this tournament."

Sharapova will now face her first real test when she takes on German fifth seed Angelique Kerber, who ousted former world number one Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 and is among the latest women to qualify for the WTA Championships.

Czech player Petra Kvitova and Sara Errani of Italy were also confirmed for the season finale, leaving just the eighth and final spot undecided -- the position currently held by Li.

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