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Zhizhen Zhang creates history as he becomes first Chinese man to reach world’s top 100

Zhang was ranked outside the top 300 in the world in January but a strong of good results has taken him where no Chinese man has gone in the tennis world

Zhizhen Zhang at the ATP Naples Open

Monday marked a historic day for Chinese tennis as 26-year-old Zhizhen Zhang became the first male player from the country to reach the world’s top 100 rankings.

Zhang climbed 12 spots to No 97 to make his top 100 debut thanks to a quarter-final finish at the ATP Naples Open where he came through the qualifying draw.

Naples was the fourth consecutive ATP Tour level or higher event that Zhang has played through the qualifying draw – starting with the US Open (only his second Grand Slam main draw appearance), the ATP 500 in Astana where beat 39th ranked Aslan Karatsev to reach the second round, the ATP Florence Open where he came in as a lucky loser and lost in the first round, and then Naples, where beat 91st ranked Marton Fucsovics and 37th ranked Sebastian Baez to reach the last eight.

Zhang started the season at No 321 in the world and was still ranked No 281 at the time of Wimbledon. But post that, the Chinese player has been on a tear – reaching the semi-finals of the ATP Challenger in Braunschweig, Germany, the finals of the ATP Challenger in Trieste, Italy, winning the ATP Challenger in Cordenons, Italy and then reaching another Challenger final in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland before upping his game at the ATP Tour level. All in all, Zhang has won 31 of 39 matches in the post-Wimbledon stretch.

My next goal will be the top 50 – Zhizhen Zhang

Zhang will play two more ATP Challenger events in Italy and Slovakia before the season ends. The Chinese man has now set his eyes on breaking into the world’s top 50 and getting a direct entry into the Australian Open in January.

“I am looking to improve my fitness level and my movement on the court during the winter break,” said Zhang as quoted by “I have to improve the power of my weapons to meet the higher standards of the top 100. My next goal will be the top 50, but I will start by targeting the top 70 and preparing for a strong run in the main draw of the Australian Open.”

“It cannot be done by just one player or one generation. It’s the result of accumulated efforts after trying for decades,” Zhang said of the rising profile of Chinese men’s tennis. which also includes 23-year-old Yibing Wu at No 117 and 17-year-old Juncheng Shang at No 202. “Now is a great moment for Chinese men’s tennis with several of us all competing in a healthy environment. We chase one after another on the court while staying quite close and motivating each other off the court.”

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