Teenager Shang Juncheng created a slice of history Monday by becoming the first male Chinese player to win an Australian Open main draw singles match. The gifted 17-year-old, a qualifier, battled past Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 7-5 in nearly three hours of intense tennis to progress. After saving two break points in the opening set, he did not face another as he sealed the win on his third match point.
His reward is a tough second round encounter with either American 16th seed Frances Tiafoe or another German, Daniel Altmaier.
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.
Shang, the youngest player in the men’s draw, is leading a historic charge in Melbourne with three male Chinese players competing at any Grand Slam main draw since the Open era began in 1968.
He is joined by fellow Chinese Zhang Zhizhen and Wu Yibing.
There are seven Chinese women in the singles draw, led by the veteran Zhang Shuai, who is ranked 22 in the world.
The retired Li Na remains China’s best-ever player after she won the French Open in 2011 and Australian Open three years later.