MELBOURNE, Australia – At 27 (when did THAT happen?) Carol Zhao played her first pro event more than 13 years ago.
She won the junior Australian Open doubles with Ana Konjuh – a decade ago, in 2013.
It is absolutely insane how time flies.
But she has only been to Melbourne in the pros once before.
And on Monday, she won her first career match here.
Zhao defeated Eudice Chong of Hong Kong 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the second round of the Australian Open qualifying.
Chong is a 26-year-old currently ranked No. 151.
Here’s what it looked like; Zhao’s gorgeous parents and boyfriend Andy were on hand.
On Wednesday, Zhao (ranked No. 168) will play No. 17 seed Clara Burel of France.
Zhao and Burel are meeting for the first time
AO history has some impressive scalps
Zhao’s only previous appearance in Australia in the pros came five years ago, in 2018.
She was ranked No. 145 at the time, and lost 6-3, 6-0 in the first round of qualifying to Denisa Satralova, then ranked No. 130.
It’s been a long five years – half of it taken up diagnosing, treating and managing a confounding elbow injury.
In that 2013 junior doubles victory with Konjuh, who has made the top 20 in her career but has been beset by injuries, there were some notable scalps along the way.