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Zheng Saisai of China reacts during her singles first round match against Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain at the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, France. Photo: Xinhua

Is Chinese tennis finally on the up? Zhang Shuai, Zheng Saisai and Jerry Shang lead recent trophy haul

  • China No 1 Zhang Shuai takes three doubles titles in a month after winning Ostrava Open with India’s Sania Mirza
  • Zheng Saisai and Wang Xiyu win Columbus doubles while world No 1 junior Jerry Shang wins first men’s competition

Whisper it but could Chinese tennis finally be on the up?

The last few days and weeks have seen a number of players from China notch up tournament wins, some for the first time, as many of the country’s players return to the tour after skipping events for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and China National Games.

China’s No 1 player Zhang Shuai – the only player of note to skip both the Olympics and National Games – racked up her third women’s doubles title of a remarkable month.

Zhang and partner Shania Mirza of India won the Ostrava Open, where they beat Kaitlyn Christian and Erin Routliffe in the final on Sunday.

While it was Mirza’s first title of the season, it was Zhang’s third in almost as many weeks after the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and the US Open – both of which she won with Samantha Stosur.

Zhang and Mirza, the seconds seeds in the Czech tournament, beat the third seed pairing 6-3 6-2 in the WTA 500 event.

Zhang’s US Open win completes Chinese ‘golden slam’

Meanwhile, Zheng Saisai – the only player to represent China in doubles and singles at the Tokyo Games – continued her fine form on returning to the tour.

After winning the ITF tournament in Caldas da Rainha in Portugal, where she beat France’s Harmony Tan in the final earlier this month, Zheng reached the semi-finals of the singles in Columbus, Ohio at the WTA 125K.

Zheng had beaten Asia Muhammad, Alexa Glatch and fifth seed Lauren Davis – all of the US – on her way to the singles semi before the Chinese fourth seed lost to Spanish second seed Nuria Parrizas-Diaz in the last four after taking the first set.

Zheng Saisai of China hits a return during the women’s singles first round match against Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain at the 2021 French Open. Photo: Xinhua

She would get immediate revenge on the Spaniard. Zheng and Wang Xiyu beat Parrizas-Diaz and partner Dalila Jakupovic in the final of the women’s doubles, winning 6-1, 6-1.

Zheng and Wang, who were unseeded in Columbus, saw off the fourth seeds Liang En-shuo of Taiwan and Canada’s Rebecca Marino in the semi – beating them 2-6, 6-2, 10-8 – and the top-seeded US duo Ingrid Neel and Sabrina Santamaria in the quarters.

Wang Xiyu went one better than Zheng in the singles after she beat CoCo Vandeweghe of the US in straight sets in their semi-final.

Party time for Chinese tennis shows struggle since Li Na flew solo

The Chinese No 8 seed then faced Zheng’s victor in the final but also came unstuck against the second seed. Parrizas-Diaz won 7-6, 6-3 to take the title.

There was also a rare bright spot for the Chinese men’s game over the weekend.

Jerry Shang Juncheng, who finished runner-up in the boy’s singles at the US Open, won his first men’s title in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The 16-year-old world junior No 1 beat British No 7 seed Mark Whitehouse in the final, winning 6-3, 6-0 to take the ITF World Tour prize.

This week in the lead-up to the “fifth major” at Indian Wells, which begins on October 6, several of China’s women are back in action.

Wang Xinyu is the second seed at the ITF event in Berkeley while Zheng is top seed at the event. They are joined by Lu Jialing in the singles, while Lu is also partnering Taiwan’s Liang in the doubles.

Slam or superstar – what’s next for Chinese tennis?

Zhang is in action at the WTA Chicago 500 where she plays the singles and the doubles, sticking with Mirza. Wang Xiyu has reportedly pulled out of an ITF event at Le Newbourg, France.