June 25 (Reuters) – When Zhang Zichen leaves Wimbledon to face France’s Antoine Huang next week, it will be a long-awaited feat for Chinese men’s tennis.
The world number 178 will be the first Chinese player to play in the main draw of a professional-round Wimbledon, having made it to the Rohampton playoffs this week.
The 24-year-old, who secured his spot after beating Argentina’s Francisco Serondolo in four sets on Thursday, will become the fourth Chinese player to play in singles in a Grand Slam main draw since the start of the Open era in 1968.
No Chinese player has played singles since 1959.
Wu Di (2013, 2014, 2016), Zhang Ze (2014, 2015) and Li Ze (2019) played at the Australian Open.
It’s a mystery why the Chinese men failed to emulate the country’s women, as they fielded several top players, including Li Na, who won the French and Australian Open titles before retiring in 2014.
Zhang Zhizhen is currently the only Chinese player in the top 250 in the ATP rankings.
Additional reporting by Mansi Patak in Bangalore; Editing by Peter Rutherford
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