Chinese Star Yunchaokete Bu: From Idolising Murray To Playing The Scot
A dream year keeps getting better for Chinese #NextGenATP star Yunchaokete Bu.
The 21-year-old, who claimed his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title in April, earned his first grass-court victory Tuesday at the Lexus Surbiton Trophy. Yunchaokete ousted Briton Harry Wendelken to set a second-round clash against his idol, three-time major champion Andy Murray.
“He’s my idol. When I was nine or 10, I started to love him,” Yunchaokete told ATPTour.com. “The dream has come. I don’t know how to describe this feeling, it’s pretty special.”
Yunchaokete recalled one Murray match in particular that he will forever remember.
“I think the [2012 London] Olympics match against Roger, that was a big one,” Yunchaokete said. “Because a month before, he just lost the Wimbledon final against him.”
Perhaps Wednesday’s encounter at the Surbiton Challenger will become Yunchaokete’s fondest memory of the Scot, who will be standing across the net.
Tied at his career-high No. 164 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, Yunchaokete has made rapid progress within the past year. After winning six titles on the ITF Men’s World Tennis Tour last season, Yunchaokete graduated to the ATP Challenger Tour, where he boasts a 14-9 match record in 2023.
When Yunchaokete triumphed at the Seoul Challenger in April, he became the third Chinese player to win an ATP Challenger Tour title aged 21 and under. Wu Yibing (2017) and Shang Juncheng (2022) both did it aged 17.
World No. 54 Wu made history by becoming the first tour-level titlist from China at the Dallas Open in February. A month prior, the teenager Shang became the first man from the Asian nation to win an Australian Open match in the Open Era.
Another Chinese star, Zhang Zhizhen, reached the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open last month. The 26-year-old became the first Chinese male to crack the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings last October.
Yunchaokete, who is tenth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Next Gen Race, is drawing inspiration from his countrymen’s record-breaking runs.
“Before I played the final in Seoul, they gave me a lot of confidence and they sent messages to me saying, ‘Just be confident!’” Yunchaokete said. “Also after today, [Wu] just said ‘Believe in yourself!’ because he knows that tomorrow I play my idol.
“They give me a lot of confidence because I didn’t think I could be Top 50 or something, but now they’re close so I feel I can make it also. We have a good relationship, we text a lot. When Wu won the 250 tournament [in Dallas], I texted him and said ‘Congrats!’ and when he did well on the clay also.”
With his colleagues cheering him on from afar, Yunchaokete will be full of confidence — and excitement — when he aims for the highest-ranked win of his career against his idol, World No. 43 Murray.