Teenager Shang Juncheng created a slice of history on Monday (Jan 16) by becoming the first male Chinese player to win an Australian Open main draw singles match, a feat he called “huge” for his country.
The 17-year-old qualifier, the youngest player in the men’s draw, battled past Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 7-5 in nearly three hours to progress
After saving two break points in the opening set, he did not face another as he sealed the win on his third match point at Melbourne Park.
His reward is a tough second-round encounter with either American 16th seed Frances Tiafoe or another German, Daniel Altmaier.
“I think it’s huge for Chinese men’s tennis. You know, we have had really good players from the women’s side but not really big names in the men’s,” said Shang, who also goes by the name “Jerry”.
“So I think we are very lucky that I’m part of it and I’m very lucky that I’m part of this team. Hopefully, we can do something big in the future.”
“I think overall this whole week was different for me, playing my first Slam, every day I was pretty nervous getting on the court,” he said.
“But at the same time, it’s one of the best moments I have had so far in my career, so I’m just very excited to be on court, and everything is a learning process for me.”
Shang is leading a historic Chinese charge in Melbourne with three male Chinese players competing at any Grand Slam main draw since the Open era began in 1968.
He is joined by fellow Chinese Zhang Zhizhen and Wu Yibing.
There are seven Chinese women in the singles draw, led by the veteran Zhang Shuai, who is ranked 22 in the world