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China's Zhang Ze reaches second round in French Open qualifiers

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-05-21 09:43
Chinese tennis player Zhang Ze. [Photo/IC]

PARIS - Chinese tennis player Zhang Ze took on a straight-set victory over Filip Horansky of Slovakia for his second-round berth in the 2019 French Open men's singles qualifiers here on Monday, while his teammate Li Zhe bowed out in front of Croatia's Nino Serdarusic.

Horansky handed Zhang, the highest-ranked Chinese male player, an early break through precise drop shots and powerful forehand, before suffering a slump on his first serve. Zhang regrouped himself to break back for 3-all after six games.

Both players held their serves later on for a tiebreak, where the 234th-ranked Zhang didn't waste much time to savor the opening set victory at 7-3.

Feeling upbeat, Zhang broke twice into the second set for a 4-0 lead, and never looked back. He sealed the match 6-2 following Horansky's poor return.

"It's a tough match," Zhang told Xinhua. "Chinese men's players are not quite familiar with clay, thus often making insufficient preparation for the clay season. This year, I came here three weeks ahead of schedule, hopefully making breakthrough on this court."

Zhang bettered his Slovak opponent by 10 percent on first serve, and outclassed 19-16 on winners.

"Clay is not my favorable surface. I will march forward game after game, and try to play at my best level," added Zhang, who will next face Italian Salvatore Caruso.

Li, who had made his career first appearance in the Grand Slam main draw at the 2019 Australian Open, was knocked out by Serdarusic 6-2, 6-2.

Serdarusic hit five aces, and had huge advantage over Li in winners at 19-4.

Uzbek veteran Denis Istomin, the No. 2 seed, had to bid farewell to the tournament after being stunned by Germany's Dustin Brown 7-6 (5), 6-1.

A total of 128 men's qualifiers are in contention for 16 berths in the main draw until Friday.

Chinese female players Xu Shilin, Peng Shuai, Liu Fangzhou and Zhang Kailin will go out on Tuesday, with Wang Xiyu and Lu Jiajing the remaining two from China in qualifiers, which features 96 players until Friday.

China's Wang Qiang, Zhang Shuai, Zheng Saisai, Wang Yafan and Zhu Lin directly enter the women's singles main draw this year.

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