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October 9, 2018

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Home » Sports » Table Tennis

Wu victorious in Chinese derby

WU Yibing beat compatriot Li Zhe 7-6 (5), 6-2 in a first-round Chinese derby at the 2018 Rolex Shanghai Masters in Qizhong Tennis Center last night.

Both players entered the main draw as wildcard holders but it is Wu who progresses to the next stage where he will face eighth seed Kei Nishikori from Japan.

It was a first-time ATP tour level tournament meeting between the two players.

Li broke Wu in the opening game but the 18-year-old broke back in the sixth to take the first set to a tie-break, which he claimed with an ace after the fourth time of asking. In the second set, Wu broke his opponent twice to take a 4-1 lead before eventually closing out the set 6-2.

“I didn’t expect him to give me so much pressure at the beginning of the match,” Wu said. “I played more patient today and did well mentally. It was my best game for a while. But I have much respect to Li, who is still competitive at his age.”

Wu was runner-up at the 2018 Asian Games. He made his fame by winning the boys’ singles and doubles titles at the 2017 US Open. Last year, he fell to Gilles Simon on his Shanghai Masters singles debut.

The rising star then encountered a difficult time, missing four months of competitions, from February to June, due to injuries. His world ranking fell to 422 before the Shanghai tournament.

Li, 32, was awarded a wildcard after becoming the only Chinese player to advance to the last-four of the Shanghai Challengers this year. Li is currently 251st in the ATP ranking, and is still seeking his first career win in an ATP World Tour main draw.

“I lost my pace a bit in the latter part of the match,” said Li. “Wu did very well today. He was very aggressive. I can feel that he has made some adjustments in strategy and techniques in the past month. Being able to compete here is a recognition for both of us.”

In a first-round doubles match, India’s Divij Sharan and New Zealand’s Artem Sitak needed no more than one hour to see off Chinese wildcard pair Zhang Ze and Gong Maoxin 6-3, 6-4.

“Our opponents played very well today in both serving and receiving first serves, which has been showcased in their statistics,” said Zhang who will face Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in his first-round match today.

“In the past few years I have been focused on singles. But from now on, I’ll work on doubles too and my understanding of doubles matches is starting to be different.”

“Our goal is to enter the top 100 in the ATP ranking,” Zhang’s partner Gong said. “We want to enter ATP tour tournaments by our rankings in the future, and hopefully advance to Grand Slams someday.”

Zhang and Gong have worked with a new coach, Robert Davis, over the last three months.

“We are working on the fundamentals, including the body and fitness, returns and volleys. I’m trying to make them into an aggressive team,” said the American coach. “It wasn’t our best match today. Our opponents were just the better side and credit to them.

“Our return games are normally our strength. They are on the right track. In another four to five months, we shall be able to see more progress from them.”

In other matches, 13th seed Borna Coric from Croatia beat wildcard Stan Wawrinka from Switzerland 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. The 14th seed Milos Roanic from Canada was eliminated by American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

American qualifier Bradley Klahn beat Australia’s Nick Kyrgios 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Marco Cecchinato from Italy saw off Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (2). Another Frenchman Gael Monfils was ousted by 10th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4.

Sam Querrey and Taylor Fritz both won in straight sets to set up a second-round clash between the Americans. Querrey defeated ninth seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-4, while Fritz overcame Robin Haase 6-3, 7-6 (3). Another American Frances Tiafoe lost to Matthew Ebden 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Three-time Rolex Shanghai Masters winner Novak Djokovic will play Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the second round today.


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