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Wu Yibing and Zhang Zhizhen celebrate their qualification for the US Open.

Wu & Zhang Make Chinese History, Qualify For US Open

Americans Eubanks, Holt among other qualifiers

Entering this US Open, no Chinese man had competed in the main draw in the Open Era. This year, there will be two.

Wu Yibing and Zhang Zhizhen battled through qualifying, both earning their way into the main draw on Friday with victories on a rainy day at Flushing Meadows.

Wu, the 2017 US Open boys’ singles champion, was the first to advance when he defeated Frenchman Corentin Moutet 7-6(5), 6-2. This was the 22-year-old’s first attempt to qualify for a major.

“Of course I’m happy. I’m happy to be back here playing here in a major event since 2017, when I won here. It’s pretty special for me, but I’m just trying to play my tennis, show the people or myself that I still can play,” Wu said. “It’s been a tough few years for me. I really suffered from injuries and Covid in China. It seems like I can still play a little bit of tennis.

“I’m happy about what I did here. I love the people here, the crowd. Many Chinese people came to support, I love it.”

Wu would return to the court as a spectator to watch his friend, Zhang, oust Zizou Bergs 6-2, 6-4.

“For him it’s easy because he won the juniors here. Five years he didn’t lose a match at the US Open!” Zhang said, cracking a laugh. “For me, I was surprised I passed the qualies because it’s my first time here of course. I was playing quite good on clay courts after grass. I didn’t expect that I can pass here.”

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Before the Open Era, the only Chinese men who competed in the US Open main draw were Kong Paul in 1924, Cheng Guy in 1935 and Choy Wai-Chuen in 1940 and 1941. This is the first time two Chinese men will compete in the tournament’s main draw in the same year.

German Maximilian Marterer extended his US Open qualifying winning streak to nine earlier in the day when he needed just 68 minutes to take down Italian Riccardo Bonadio 6-4, 6-3 and earn a spot in the main draw. Marterer, 27, also qualified for the year’s final major in 2017 and 2021. Now, he sets his sights on getting past the first round at Flushing Meadows for the first time. The lefty also advanced through qualifying to reach the Australian Open and Wimbledon main draws this season. 

Norbert Gombos had to wait patiently for his chance to reach the main draw after rain halted his attempt to serve out his final qualifying round match with Frenchman Hugo Grenier at 5-3 in the final set. When play resumed the Slovakian, who had failed in four previous attempts to win through qualifying in New York, held his nerve to qualify for his third major of the season, winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Gombos was a direct entrant in the main draw in 2017, 2020 and 2021. 

Home favourite Christopher Eubanks qualified for the second consecutive year after rallying from a set down to beat Italian Raul Brancaccio 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. The former Georgia Tech standout advances to his first Grand Slam main draw of 2022 (sixth overall).

Another American, Brandon Holt, defeated Dimitar Kuzmanov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to qualify for his first major main draw. Holt, the son of WTA legend Tracy Austin, let slip three match points before the second rain delay of his match, but returned to Court 11 to finish the job on his fifth match point.

Former World No. 33 Argentine Federico Delbonis needed three sets in back-to-back days to reach the main draw, including a third-round victory Friday over Dutchman Jesper De Jong 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-4.

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