Ze Zhang Continues Hot Streak In Guangzhou
China celebrated a milestone in men’s tennis last January when Di Wu became the first Chinese man to win an ATP Challenger Tour event, but Ze Zhang appears poised to soon join his countryman in the winner’s circle with his strong results over the past month.
The World No. 193 has reached two consecutive finals on the ATP Challenger Tour at events in Kyoto, Japan and Zhuhai, China. Zhang is now one match away from completing a hat-trick of finals appearances after advancing to the semi-finals this week in Guangzhou, China. The result is even more impressive considering that not only did Zhang prevail in matches played on outdoor and indoor courts due to rain, but he also bounced back quickly from a leg injury sustained during last week’s final in Zhuhai.
“The weather in Guangzhou has been difficult, but I know I have to deal with it and keep myself calm,” said Zhang. “I believe I can produce good tennis both outdoors and indoors.”
Having started the year ranked No. 239, the 25-year-old Zhang has already climbed more than 40 spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings and will jump even further on the back of his results over the past two weeks. He credited a decision to skip this year’s Australian Open with refreshing both his body and mind, enabling him to withstand a heavy schedule of Challenger events throughout Asia since then.
“My arm and shoulder were injured and I felt so tired inside. I think I needed a break to relax both my body and mind,” said Zhang. “I’ve been more focused on my game since coming back. I’m more mature this year, especially on the key points of the match. My coach has also given me lots of advice and I couldn’t do this without him."
With four Chinese men currently ranked inside the Top 250 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, Zhang said he has been inspired by the results of his countrymen. He also cited Wu’s Challenger victory with providing him motivation to achieve similar results.
“I’m very happy for him. We need some players to stand out and create a good, competitive atmosphere so that we can push each other to do better,” said Zhang. “Wu’s win gave us confidence to do well and believe in ourselves. It’s all a good sign for men’s tennis in China.”
Zhang appears poised this year to break his current career-high ranking of No. 148, which he achieved in May 2013. But despite his strong results so far in 2016, he isn’t setting his sights on cracking the Top 100 just yet.
“I don’t want to think too much about this. I just want to focus on myself and keep making progress on a daily basis,” said Zhang. “When it’s time, the ranking will come to my side.”