China’s Shang Juncheng made history during his Grand Slam debut on Monday by becoming the first Chinese male national to win an Australian Open match since the Open Era began in 1968.
The 17-year-old qualifier defeated world No. 74 Oscar Otte from Germany in a 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5 match. Taking control of the match right from the opening set, Shang saved two break points before capturing the victory in four sets.
“I’d say in some way, I’m a little surprised that it came this fast,” Shang told the press during the post-match interview. “But at the same time, I think it’s all the hard work from my team and myself that paid off. I’m just nothing else but excited about what’s coming next.”
Shang qualified for the tournament in Melbourne after dropping just one set in his three qualifier matches. He joins compatriots Zhang Zhizhen and Wu Yibing in the main draw, making it the first time in the Open Era that three Chinese men have qualified to play in a grand slam. Seven Chinese women, led by world No. 22 Zhang Shuai, are currently in the singles draw.
Shang initially took interest in soccer, but his mother suggested tennis to avoid potential injuries.
“For me, the main goal was to become a professional tennis player, even when I was 6 or 7 years old,” he was quoted as saying. “We started practicing in China in Beijing. That’s where I started on an indoor hard court, and my dad used to play soccer in Spain, so he really liked the system and the way the Spanish athletes work.”
Rather than training in Spain, however, teen athlete moved from Beijing to Naples, Florida, at age 11 to train at the Emilio Sanchez Academy, which is run by former Spanish ATP player Emilio Sanchez.
The youngest player at the competition, he is now the first 17-year-old to win a men’s singles match at a Grand Slam since world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz did it back in 2021.
“After hearing this, I think it’s quite a big accomplishment,” Shang said. “He’s the best player in the world right now. Just watching him play on the court really inspires me, and inspires the young players. So to do this, it’s very special for me.”
Following the win, the rising tennis star leapt 50 places in the world rankings to a career-high No. 144.
Shang advances to the second round to face American 16th seed Frances Tiafoe, who defeated German Daniel Altmaier in four sets. Shang faces the 24-year-old American on Wednesday afternoon.