Match Report

Zheng & Zhang Seal Victory For China

China beats Czech Republic 3-0
December 30, 2023
Zhang Zhizhen in action on Saturday in Perth.
Getty Images
Zhang Zhizhen in action on Saturday in Perth. By ATP Staff

Zheng Qinwen clinched a groundbreaking tie for China at the 2024 United Cup by defeating reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 in their Group E clash in Perth, Australia on Saturday.

In the first career meeting between the two Top 20 players, it was 21-year-old Zheng who prevailed over Vondrousova in a back-and-forth affair after 1 hour and 48 minutes of play. Zheng, the 2022 WTA Newcomer of the Year and 2023’s Most Improved Player, cemented an insurmountable 2-0 lead for China, in her nation’s first-ever United Cup tie.

Zheng and Zhang Zhizhen then teamed in the mixed doubles to complete a 3-0 win for China. They beat Vondrousova and Lehecka 6-1, 6-2.

Currently sitting at a career-high ranking of World No. 15, Zheng got off to a blistering start in the singles, winning 12 of the first 13 points on her way to a commanding 5-0 lead. World No.7 Vondrousova fended off two set points to avert the bagel, but in the following game, Zheng converted her third set point by firing her sixth forehand winner of the opener.

Vondrousova, though, turned the tables in the second set, despite dropping her serve with a double fault in the opening game. The Czech, who won her maiden Grand Slam title at the All England Club in July, took charge in lengthier rallies and racked up six of the next seven games to square the match.

Zheng, however, recovered her aggressive play to cruise through the decider and obtain the sixth Top 10 win of her career. Zheng ended the match similarly to how she started it, winning 14 of the last 16 points.

Earlier, Zhang made more history for China on Saturday when he earned his country its first match win at the United Cup. The 27-year-old clawed past Lehecka 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.

Zhang enjoyed a standout 2023 season. He became the first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finalist from China before he rose to No. 52 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the highest position ever held by anyone from the East Asian country. He also beat Casper Ruud at the US Open to become the first Chinese man to defeat a Top 5 opponent.

On the second day of the 2024 season, Zhang continued from where he left off, producing a hard-fought display against Lehecka in the RAC Arena. In a heavy-hitting clash, the World No. 58 stood close to the baseline to dictate, taking large cuts at the ball to triumph after two hours and 20 minutes.

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