Player Features

China's Bu: 'I hope I can inspire'

The 22-year-old is one of three Chinese players in Top 200
February 27, 2024
Buyunchaokete is competing this week at the Tenerife Challenger 3.
Lorenzo Ercoli
Buyunchaokete is competing this week at the Tenerife Challenger 3. By Grant Thompson

The roughly 1.4 billion people in China have much to be proud of in today’s landscape of professional tennis.

Whether it is Zhang Zhizhen carrying the torch on the men’s side at a career-high No. 46 this week or the seven Chinese players in the WTA Top 100, including Australian Open finalist Zheng Qinwen, the Asian nation is being well represented throughout the world.

On the ATP Challenger Tour, 22-year-old Buyunchaokete has worked hard to become one of three Chinese players in the Top 200 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. A native of the Bortala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture in northwest China, ‘Bu’ takes pride in where he comes from.

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“I love it there. We have 56 nationalities and I’m of Mongolian nationality, it’s really different from the east of China,” Buyunchaokete, who goes by one name, told the Tenerife Challenger media team. “Different language, different food. But I love my home there. I moved to the east when I was five or six years old.”

Despite not even pursuing professional tennis until two years ago, Bu became the third Chinese player to win an ATP Challenger Tour title aged 21 and under when he triumphed in Seoul last April. Wu Yibing (2017) and Shang Juncheng (2022) both accomplished the feat aged 17.

The quartet of Chinese men’s talent was one of the stories of the 2023 season, with one of the highlights coming in Dallas, where Wu became the first player from his country to win an ATP Tour title.

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Bu, who advanced to the second round of the Rolex Shanghai Masters during his tour-level debut last year, shares a common goal with his countrymen: growing the sport in China.

“Right now I think they know more about Zhang Zhizhen, Wu Yibing or Jerry Shang,” Bu said. “But I hope I can [inspire] some nationality from Mongolia or doesn’t matter, [anywhere] in China. I hope China can know more about me and if I can inspire them, that’s perfect.”

Based at the Ferrero Tennis Academy in Alicante, Spain, Bu has endured a slow start to the season due to injury. The World No. 181 is competing at just his second tournament of 2024 at this week’s Tenerife Challenger 3.

“I stopped for three, four months. I only played in Australian Open qualifying. I wasn’t 100 per cent at that moment but I wanted to try because it’s special, it’s a major,” Bu said. “I was injured last year in Japan [in November]. I had a fungus in my foot — a foot corn — and I could not move 100 per cent, I could not slide on the court. That was tough. We couldn’t find a good solution so we took a couple months [off] and now I’m good, really happy to be back.”

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