Shang bows out while Zhu makes personal best at Australian Open

(Xinhua) 13:53, January 19, 2023

MELBOURNE, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- China's 17-year-old Shang Juncheng on Wednesday was defeated by 16th seed Frances Tiafoe in a three-setter, while Zhu Lin renewed her personal best record at a Grand Slam event by easing into the third round of the Australian Open.

"I think today was a very, very good learning experience for me to play on a very big court and against a top 20 opponent and who's never lost a match this year," Shang told reporters, after his one-hour, 58-minute clash with world No. 17 Tiafoe at the John Cane Arena.

"He was the better player today. But I enjoyed every moment out there," he added.

Though Shang went down 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 and was overwhelmed by Tiafoe's 20 powerful aces, the teenager impressed with his forehand strikes.

Shang added that he felt happy for passing the qualifying campaign and winning the first round. "We're just very excited about what's coming next and can't wait for the next round," said Shang, adding that he hoped to move up a level in the 2023 season.

Tiafoe called Shang a special player who is going to be "a problem for a long time."

"He is going to have a career that's going to be special," said the 24-year-old American. "And I'm a big fan of his. Super nice guy as well. I hope nothing but the best for him, honestly."

Due to rain delays, the match between Zhu Lin and the tournament's 32nd seed Jil Teichmann of Switzerland was delayed by six hours, but that didn't stop Zhu from booking her berth in the women's singles third round, posting a 6-2, 6-2 win over Teichmann after one hour and 26 minutes.

The feat marks Zhu's personal best record at a Grand Slam event since her career debut in 2009.

"I didn't think too much about the result when I played. All I thought was just the next point and focus. I really enjoyed the match, I was really focused and also relaxed," Zhu told reporters.

Currently ranked world No. 87, Zhu sprinted into a 4-0 advantage within 21 minutes and sealed a comfortable 6-2 first-set victory. With her good form extending into the second set, Zhu came back from 1-0 down and reeled off three games in a row to secure her win.

Though Teichmann tried to save the match by drawing the deciding game into a deuce, two unforced forehand errors in the final minutes saw her defeated.

Rewinding the years of her tennis career, the 28-year-old Zhu expressed delight over her new personal best, but didn't linger on it.

"This is not the end. For me, there is still a long way to go," said Zhu. "I think I'm like a bird flying slower than others, but I will eventually reach my destination."

In her first-ever Grand Slam third round, Zhu faces sixth seed and world No. 6 Maria Sakkari of Greece. The two players have faced each other once before, in the 2016 Australian Open qualifying round, where Sakkari beat Zhu 6-3, 6-2.

Entering the singles draw as the 23rd seed, China's 33-year-old veteran Zhang Shuai advanced into the second round by beating Patricia Maria Tig of Romania 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 in two hours and 10 minutes.

21-year-old Wang Xinyu was knocked out 6-3, 6-2 by tenth seed Madison Keys of the United States, though Wang will continue her Australian Open journey in the women's doubles.

29th-seeded Zheng Qinwen was ousted 6-4, 6-4 by world No. 41 Bernarda Pera of the United States.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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