Zhang Makes History In Shanghai, Safiullin Upsets Zverev

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2023

Zhang Makes History In Shanghai, Safiullin Upsets Zverev

26-year-old Zhang is first Chinese player to claim back-to-back wins at home M1000

Zhang Zhizhen added another historic achievement to his groundbreaking year on the ATP Tour on Friday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

The World No. 60 defeated Tomas Martin Etcheverry 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to become the first home favourite to reach the third round in the history of the ATP Masters 1000 event. Zhang edged the 28th-seeded Argentine in a gripping two-hour, 28-minute encounter played out amid a raucous atmosphere inside the Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena.

“First set I was down, and he had a break,” said Zhang after the match. “I told myself, second set I still have a chance. I just tried to hold my service games and see if I could break him. First set my return was not working well, so I changed my position a bit and I’m happy to win the match of course.”

Zhang clinched a crucial break in the ninth game of the deciding set and then held his nerve to convert his third match point in a final game featuring a series of bruising baseline exchanges. He outhit Etcheverry by 32 winners to 30 to seal his eighth Top 50 win of the season.

Zhang became the first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finalist from China in May in Madrid and in July rose to No. 52 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the highest position ever held by anyone from the East Asian country. He beat Casper Ruud at the US Open to become the first Chinese man to beat a Top 5 opponent and is now the first player from his country to win back-to-back matches in 12 editions of the Shanghai event.

“It’s a first-time experience for me,” said Zhang, a hugely popular figure in his homeland. “Everything is new. I just try to take it, these are not bad things [that are happening]. So why not just take it [as it goes] and enjoy it?”

Zhang will take on American Brandon Nakashima on Sunday as he bids to reach the last 16 of a Masters 1000 tournament for the second time.

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Buyunchaokete’s first-round win against Miomir Kecmanovic had ensured there were two Chinese players in the Shanghai second round for the first time. That is where the 21-year-old’s run ended, however, as Sebastian Korda prevailed 6-1, 6-4 to immediately back up his run to the Astana title match. The 26th seed will next take on defending champion Daniil Medvedev or Cristian Garin.

Roman Safiullin lit up the Shanghai night, crushing 32 winners, to upset ninth seed Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-1. Safiullin took the ball early and often worked his way forward, winning 18 of 22 net points to avenge last month’s Chengdu final loss to the German.

Following the 26-year-old’s second career Top 10 victory, Safiullin is up eight spots to No. 42 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. Safiullin, who ousted Andy Murray in the Shanghai first round, will next meet 19th seed Ben Shelton.

Marton Fucsovics held firm to upset Felix Auger-Aliassime win a hard-hitting contest on Show Court 3. The Hungarian completed a 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3 triumph to reach the third round for the first time on his second main-draw appearance in Shanghai, where he will next face Francisco Cerundolo. The Argentine held his nerve for a 7-6(4), 7-6(5) triumph against Mackenzie McDonald.

The American Shelton and Sebastian Baez also made winning starts to their Shanghai campaigns. Shelton downed Jaume Munar 6-4, 6-4 while Baez ended Australian qualifier Dane Sweeny’s run with a 6-2, 6-4 win that booked the Argentine a clash with Beijing champion Jannik Sinner or Marcos Giron.

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