The 26-year-old Zhizhen Zhang is the first Chinese player in the Masters 1000 quarter-final! World no. 99 came to Madrid with only two Masters 1000 matches and no wins. Zhang has beaten three rivals in the deciding tie break to advance into the quarter-final and write his country's history.
Zhizhen met the 8th seed Taylor Fritz in the fourth round and scored a thrilling 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 victory in two hours and 28 minutes after fending off three match points! Zhang served for the victory at 5-4 in the decider, missing that opportunity but staying focused in the tie break to overcome those three match points and prevail after a cracker.
Taylor played better behind the first and second serve and won 13 points more than his rival. The American fired more service winners and direct points from the field, with fewer unforced errors on his tally. However, it was not enough to propel him over the top, squandering those three match points and failing to reach his fourth Masters 1000 quarter-final in 2023.
Zhizhen Zhang prevailed over Taylor Fritz at the Madrid Masters.
Zhang saved five out of eight break points and delivered two breaks from four opportunities. Fritz had 36 winners and 27 unforced errors, beating the rival's 34-38 ratio but still finishing on the losing side.
Taylor hit the zone right from the start, serving well in the opener and keeping the pressure on the other side. He broke Zhang in the sixth game after the rival's loose backhand and clinched the set with an ace in game nine.
They traded breaks in the second set's games seven and eight and served well in the remaining four to introduce a tie break. The Chinese trailed 3-0 and rattled off five points for 5-3 after a forehand winner. Taylor sprayed a forehand error at 5-5, and Zhizhen converted a set point with a service winner to introduce a decider after an hour and a half.
Nothing separated them in the third set's opening eight games, with commanding holds on the fast Caja Magica clay. The American lost the ground behind the initial shot in game nine and experienced a break when his backhand landed long to send the Chinese 5-4 in front.
Zhang served for the victory in the tenth game and missed a forehand to get broken at 15 and keep Fritz in contention. The set went into a tie break, bringing an ultimate thriller! Taylor forged a 5-3 advantage and created two match points with a forehand crosscourt winner in the tenth point.
Zhang denied them with powerful hitting and produced his first match point after Fritz's forehand error at 6-6. Taylor denied it with a fine passing shot and defended superbly in the 15th point to open an 8-7 gap and earn his third match point.
He squandered it with a loose forehand and missed another to give his opponent the second match point. Zhizhen seized it to start a massive celebration and write Chinese tennis history.