SPORTS China's Zhang Zhizhen 1 game away from first Grand Slam win in AO 2023

SPORTS

China's Zhang Zhizhen 1 game away from first Grand Slam win in AO 2023

CGTN

22:04, January 17, 2023

Zhang Zhizhen (L) of China and Ben Shelton of the U.S. shake hands after the men's singles first-round match in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 17, 2023. (Photo: CFP)

Zhang Zhizhen of China lost to Ben Shelton of the U.S. 2-3 (6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-2 and 6 (4)-7 (10)) in the men's singles first-round match in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.

As the first player from Chinese mainland to enter the top 100 on the Association of Tennis Professionals' world rankings table, Zhang was going after his first win in the Grand Slam tournaments. He participated in the Wimbledon Championship and the U.S. Open last year but did not go past the first round on both occasions.

Having reached a 2-2 tie after four games in the first set, Zhang broke Shelton's serve first and then carried on the good momentum to win the first set. Shelton soon responded by getting three breaks to win the following two sets.

Ben Shelton of the U.S. competes in the men's singles first-round match against Zhang Zhizhen of China in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 17, 2023. (Photo: CFP)

Zhang stole a march on Shelton by breaking his first serve in the fourth set and then went on to establish an overwhelming lead of 5-2 before ending this set with another break. The match then entered the final set.

After the two reached 1-1 in the fifth set, the competition was suspended for hours because of sudden rain. Having rested enough to restore their strength, both Zhang and Shelton dominated in their serving games to win until the score reached 5-4 for Zhang. He had a match point but it was blown by Shelton with an ace.

Zhang Zhizhen of China competes in the men's singles first-round match against Ben Shelton of the U.S. in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 17, 2023. (Photo: CFP)

The final set went to the super tiebreaker after both sides won six games. Shelton gained an early lead of 3-0 after breaking the first two serves by Zhang. He then continued to extend his lead with sharp serves and powerful returns. In the end, Shelton served an ace to win this super tiebreaker and pocketed his first win in the Grand Slam tournaments.

Wang Xiyu of China acknowledges the crowd after losing to Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 0-2 (1-6 and 3-6) in the women's singles first-round match in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 17, 2023. (Photo: CFP)

In the women's singles match earlier on Tuesday, Wang Xiyu of China lost to the tournament's No. 30 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 0-2 (1-6 and 3-6).

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