Chinese tennis star Zhang Shuai is looking forward to returning home and preparing for next season after being knocked out of the Ostrava Open in the first round. “Next, I will return to China,” Zhang said after a 6-1, 6-1 defeat to Czech Karolina Muchova. “I am looking at the ticket. I hope I can return to China as soon as possible and spend the time before the Australian Open with my friends.” Zhang reached the third round at this season’s Australian Open back in January before the coronavirus pandemic wrought havoc on the sporting calendar. “This year due to the epidemic, everyone has actually changed a lot. Everyone is working hard to resume their normal work while maintaining their health. Tennis tournaments can start again and I am very happy to be able to participate,,” Zhang said. Slam or superstar – what’s next for Chinese tennis? “I also hope that I can participate in more competitions next year. I hope that the epidemic will get better and people all over the world can stay healthy and everyone can be happy.” Zhang arrived in the Czech Republic fresh off the back of a best fourth round finish at the French Open, albeit one that had a weakened field and held in October rather than May because of Covid-19. She was ranked No 35 by the WTA, one behind China’s top player Wang Qiang. Wang called time on her season in September, citing injury, but she had not played a WTA event since February. Zhang was the sole Chinese representative at Roland Garros. This first Ostrava Open, played indoors on a hard court, was added to this year’s WTA calendar after the coronavirus pandemic saw China’s regular tournaments called off. Zhang is a fan of the new addition. “I came to Ostrava for the first time and I like it here very much. The event was safe. It’s a pity that I lost in the first round. I hope this event can continue and there will be opportunities to come here in the future.” French Open: China’s Zhang soars into career best round of 16 “Muchova played very well. I admire her style and hope I can learn a lot from the game to improve myself,” Zhang said. There were no fans to cheer on the players as the event is being held behind closed doors.