Published: 10:06, May 27, 2024
China's Zhang, Wang reach 2nd round at French Open
By Xinhua
Zhang Zhizhen of China hits a return during the men's singles first round match between Zhang Zhizhen of China and Aleksandar Vukic of Australia at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros, Paris, France, May 26, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

PARIS - Chinese players kicked off their 2024 French Open campaigns with winning starts on Sunday, as both Zhang Zhizhen and Wang Yafan advanced past the first round.

Zhang defeated Australia's Aleksandar Vukic 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the men's singles, while Wang overcame Russia's Maria Timofeeva 6-3, 6-3 in the women's singles.

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Facing world No. 89 Vukic for the first time, Zhang showed resilience. After dropping the second set, the world No. 44 increased his aggressiveness on serve, ultimately securing the match in four sets.

"It was crucial to stay patient and wait for my opportunities," Zhang commented after the match.

Zhang will next face Italy's Lorenzo Sonego, who stunned French 17th seed Ugo Humbert.

Wang Yafan hits a return during her women's singles first round win against Maria Timofeeva at the French Open, May 26, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

This victory marked Zhang's second consecutive year winning a main draw singles match at the French Open. Last year, he made a significant breakthrough on the red dirt by reaching the quarterfinals of the ATP 1000 Madrid Masters and the third round of the French Open, setting a record for Chinese male players in a clay-court Grand Slam.

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Despite a slow start in this season's clay tournaments, Zhang regained his form at the Rome Masters, reaching the quarterfinals once again.

Meanwhile, Wang finally clinched her first main draw victory in her sixth appearance at the French Open.

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"It feels amazing to move on to the second round at Roland Garros for the first time. This win gives me a lot of confidence," Wang said.

Wang started strong against Timofeeva, breaking serve early and maintaining her lead to take the first set 6-3. Despite falling behind 0-3 in the second set, Wang quickly adjusted her strategy, winning six consecutive games to clinch the match.

"I was more patient today, which allowed me to find the right moments to attack," said 30-year-old Wang.

"I haven't played against her before, but I have watched some of her matches. The key will be to focus on my own game and adapt quickly," the Chinese said of her second-round opponent, 30th seed Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine.

In other action, two-time quarterfinalist Andrey Rublev recovered quickly from dropping the second set to seal a 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5 first-round triumph against Taro Daniel.