The curtain has come down on the 2019 Australian Open Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off at the Hengqin International Tennis Centre in Zhuhai, with the 3rd seed Zhe Li beating the 2nd seed Ze Zhang 1-6 7-6 6-4 in an all-Chinese battle that lasted for two hours and 13 minutes. The 32-year-old Li will have a chance to make his Grand Slam debut, never reaching the Top 200 and playing in the qualifying round only three times in 2016.
In addition, Li will seek his first ATP win in Melbourne after losing all six matches he had played on the ATP Tour so far at home in Beijing and Shanghai. Zhang was one of only two players in the draw who had a chance to compete at Majors before but he will have to qualify in order to reach Melbourne now despite a great start of the match.
He grabbed a break in the second game of the match when Li's backhand landed long and the advantage became even bigger after another break in game six, serving for the opener in the following game. Li couldn't do much in the first part of the match and he had to fight back from 6-1 down, hoping for a much more competitive set number two.
He fought well in game nine to save break points after some questionable calls and the reward came in the tie break, winning it 7-2 after a service winner to send the match into a decider. There, Li clinched the crucial break in the ninth game and he held at love in the game that followed to wrap up the win after an ace, starting an emotional celebration after one of the most important matches of his career so far. Final result:
Zhe Li (CHN / 256) vs Ze Zhang (CHN / 220) 1-6 7-6(2) 6-4