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At the Australian Open, Shang Juncheng leads a wave of Chinese talent


But Shang, once the world’s top junior, is the youngest member of a promising new wave that includes 23-year-old Wu Yibing and 26-year-old Zhang Zhizhen.

All three were in the main draw this year in Melbourne. It is the first time that three Chinese men have played singles in the same major in the Open era, which began in 1968.

On Monday, as Shang broke through on Court 13, Wu was on the adjoining Court 14, engaging in stunning rallies with Frenchman Corentin Moutet before losing in five sets.

Wu, who also trains at IMG Academy, reached the third round of last year’s US Open, where Zhang lost in the first round. Now Shang, a dynamic southpaw who looks like the most promising talent in the group, has joined them at this level.

“Now we have three players in the top 200, and I’m happy to be part of that,” Shang said. “The other two are like older brothers to me and have been on the tour much longer than I have. We practice a lot and talk about how the game is at the moment and how we can progress towards a higher ranking. For me, every step is a learning step right now. I’m in a young stage of my career, only my second year of professional tennis. So, for me, it’s just watching how they do the things, as we also watched Li Na and how she did things.

Shang wears an earring in her left ear.

“It’s something my father had for a long time,” he said. “When I was about 10 I was like, ‘I want to be like dad’, so we went together. I have had it for a long time. »

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