May 16, 2024

Open Court


Scenes from IW qualifying – Shang shines (March 8, 2022)

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The women’s qualifying ended, and the men’s qualifying began on Wednesday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

And the standout effort on the men’s side was the only wild card who was victorious – former No. 1 junior Juncheng Shang of China.

Shang, who just turned 17 last month, got a qualifying wild card in Miami a year ago. And he also received a main draw wild card into the Rio 500 on clay last month.

So this was only his third ATP event, and he was impressive in dispatching No. 9 qualifying seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina 76 (4), 6-4.

Cerundolo is ranked exactly No. 100 this week. So it’s Shang’s first top-100 win.

He won a $15K ITF a couple of weeks ago, which brought Shang up to No. 543 in the world.

Here’s how he looked, along with a few other players in qualifying on Tuesday.

Slow start, great finish

It was Open Court’s first time watching him live.

And at first, he looked overmatched.

Shang was putting most of the returns and groundstrokes right down the middle of the court. And he was barely breaking 100 mph with his first serve.

It turned out he was just getting warmed up.

Francesco Cerundolo was ousted in the first round at Indian Wells

Down early in that first set (1-4), he came back to tie it at 4-4, and then ended up taking the first set in a tiebreak. Cerundolo looked like he couldn’t quite believe what was happening.

Suddenly Shang was going for more on his groundies. And suddenly he was warmed up and serving above 120 mph on a regular basis.

And all the while, even when he was down, he remained very, very cool.

He plays No. 19 seed Mats Moraing for a spot in the main draw. And you’d have to think that he has a good chance.

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