Shang Makes History With Win In Australian Open Debut
In a 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5 victory against Germany's Oscar Otte, the 17-year-old qualifier used his attacking game to dictate play in Melbourne. After saving two break points in the opening set, he did not face another as he sealed the landmark win on his third match point.
"I'd say in some way, I'm a little surprised that it came this fast," Shang reflected in a post-match presser. "But at the same time, I think it's all the hard work from my team and myself that paid off. I'm just nothing else but excited about what's coming next."
The youngest player in the men's singles draw, Shang showed poise beyond his years as he stayed the course after letting slip two match points on return at 5-4 in the fourth set. With Otte again serving to stay in the match at 6-5, the lefty finished the job with his fourth break of the match.
Juncheng Shang 🇨🇳👏 Take a bow!— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 16, 2023
The 17-year-old is the youngest player in the men's singles at #AO2023 and becomes the first male Chinese player to win an #AusOpen main-draw singles match in the Open Era.@wwos • @espn • @Eurosport • @wowowtennis pic.twitter.com/SzwIwU86oY
In addition to the significance of the result for China, Shang also achieved several personal milestones. Aside from notching his first major win, he also earned his first tour-level win in four tries. In 2022, he competed in his first three ATP Tour main draws in Rio de Janeiro, Indian Wells and Miami.
With the victory, Shang also became the first 17-year-old to record a men's singles Grand Slam win since Carlos Alcaraz at the 2021 Australian Open.
"After hearing this, I think it's quite a big accomplishment," he said. "Looking up to Carlos... he's the best player in the world right now. Just watching him play on the court really inspires me, inspires the young players. So to do this, it's very special for me."
Frances Tiafoe will be next for Shang, who has rocketed up 50 places to No. 144 the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week — a mark that comfortably sets him up for a new career high. He has lost just two sets across four matches in Melbourne after dropping one set in his three qualifying matches.
The 16th seed Tiafoe moved past German Daniel Altmaier 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(6) in three hours and 28 minutes. The American, who saved one set point in the fourth set, is now 6-0 on the season.
In other action, 18th seed Karen Khachanov defeated Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-6(3), 6-2, 6-0, while the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up Jiri Lehecka also advanced, overcoming Cincinnati champion Borna Coric 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Khachanov will next play Australian Jason Kubler, with the 21-year-old Lehecka taking on American wild card Christopher Eubanks or South Korean Soonwoo Kwon.