Monte Carlo Masters: China’s Zhang makes history to reach second round

China’s Zhang Zhizhen made history by advancing to the second round of the 2024 Monte Carlo Masters after defeating the American player Marcos Giron 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

China’s Zhang Zhizhen made history by advancing to the second round of the 2024 Monte Carlo Masters after defeating the American player Marcos Giron 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

The victory propelled Zhang to become the first player from the Chinese mainland to reach this stage in the event, reports Xinhua.

The Monte Carlo Masters, the first ATP 1000 event of the clay season, had never had a player from the Chinese mainland in its main draw before Zhang. This year, Zhang was able to enter the main draw as a replacement following Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal due to injury.

Zhang’s first-round opponent was Giron, who is ranked one place higher in the world rankings. The match, initially scheduled for 11 am, was delayed by approximately two hours due to the rain.

Zhang went into the match aggressively in the opening set, breaking Giron’s first service game and taking the set 6-4. The second set saw Zhang breaking early again in the third game, but Giron immediately broke back, levelling the score at 2-2. Zhang then lost his rhythm, allowing Giron to take a 4-2 lead with two consecutive love games. Despite attempts to recover, Zhang could not break back and lost the second set 6-3.

In the deciding set, both players held their serves until Zhang broke through in the sixth game to lead 4-2, before eventually winning the set 6-3.

Next for Zhang is France’s Ugo Humbert, who has been in excellent form this season, winning titles in Marseille and Dubai, and is currently ranked 15th in the world.

The 27-year-old Zhang seems to be finding his footing on clay courts. Last season, he made a significant breakthrough in his career on the red dirt, reaching the quarterfinals at the Madrid Masters and the third round at the French Open.

(IANS)