Zhizhen Zhang had twice reached the quarterfinals on the major circuit: once at his home tournament in 2017, and once at the Tennis Napoli Cup. In Madrid, however, he took advantage of his big break and became the first Chinese tennis player to go all the way to the quarterfinals in a Masters 1000.
Zhang accomplished a real feat and surpassed Taylor Fritz by disallowing three match points and winning two ties hard-fought break. Zhang is the first Chinese in the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000.
Who is Zhizhen Zhang, the Chinese who reach the quarterfs in a Masters 1000
In the press conference he said: "Five tiebreakers in a row won? One in the first round, two in the second and third rounds, and today two.
I've lost several tiebreakers, so I always remember the ones I win. It's amazing, something like this has never happened to me. The altitude is helping my serve. Even if I can't break my opponent, I have the possibility to play the tiebreak like this.
When I started playing tennis, I made a decision. I started swimming and playing tennis, I could choose both. In the end I chose tennis because it seemed more fun to me." Zhang faced Russian Aslan Karatsev in the quarterfinals; the stakes were high, because with a victory he would have become the best Chinese player in the world, but defeat came.
Before the match and the loss, he said: "That's not what I should be interested in. I should worry more, I should focus more on the match on how I should play the next match. The standings are just a consequence, so I have to stay focused on the match." and how I play.
If not, I'll wait for the next opportunity." The rival, namely Karatsev, has regained confidence. In fact, the Russian put himself on display in Madrid and ousted former number one Daniil Medvedev from the tournament. For Aslan Karatsev this is the first semifinal in a Masters 1000 of his career.
The current 121 of the ATP ranking has shown more experience at these levels and a superior technical consistency compared to Zhang.