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Wang Xiyu, Zhang Zhizhen defeated at Australian Open

(Xinhua) 13:33, January 18, 2023

Wang Xiyu of China serves during the women's singles 1st round match against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic at Australian Open tennis tournament, in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan. 17, 2023. (Xinhua/Guo Lei)

Wang Xiyu of China swallowed a straight-set loss to the tournament's 30th seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic while Zhang Zhizhen was edged out by Ben Shelton of the United States in a grueling five-setter at the Australian Open.

MELBOURNE, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Chinese men's singles player Zhang Zhizhen on Tuesday was edged out by Ben Shelton of the United States in a grueling five-setter, while Zhang's compatriot Wang Xiyu swallowed a straight-set loss to the tournament's 30th seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic at the Australian Open.

Zhang bowed out from the Australian Open after a narrow 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-7 (4) defeat to the higher-ranked Shelton.

For both players, their first-ever head-to-head proved to be a physically and mentally taxing one, as the start of the game was delayed due to extreme heat in Melbourne, followed by a thunderstorm bringing about a nearly three-hour suspension.

The temperature on the outside courts reached 37 degrees Celsius on Tuesday afternoon. Stepping on Court 14, world No. 96 Zhang fired five aces and 16 winners in the opening set to make a flying start. But too many errors forced Zhang to drop two straight sets.

After Zhang got his form back in the fourth set and the decider progressed to 1-1 tie, a sudden downpour disrupted the rhythm of the 26-year-old Chinese, who lost the tiebreaker afterward and missed out on his third chance of entering the second round in a Grand Slam.

"For me, I don't want that rain, because the match was in my favor before the timeout," Zhang told reporters. "Ben played his best tennis in the tiebreak without any errors, leaving me no opportunity to convert."

Earlier at Margaret Court Arena, China's 21-year-old Wang Xiyu was toppled by Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 6-3 in a one-hour, four-minute clash.

"I was quite nervous in the first set, because this is my first Grand Slam in 2023 and my opponent is a seed. She plays very aggressively and serves great. I need to get into the match faster and stay cool under pressure," said Wang.

Wang will also compete in the women's doubles at this year's Australian Open.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)

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