Zhang Upsets Donskoy, As Australian Open Men’s Qualifiers Begin In Doha

Zhizhen Zhang (photo: Samer Alrejjal)

DOHA/QTF, January 10, 2021

Men’s qualifying event of the 2021 Australian Open kicked off at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash complex on Sunday.

The tournament in Doha, Qatar recorded its first upset with a 7-5, 6-3 defeat of ninth-seed Evgeny Donskoy of Russia by China’s Zhizhen Zhang, currently ranked World No. 169, in one of the most exciting matches of the day.

Meeting for the first time at any tournament, World No. 122 Donskoy was no match for the 24-year-old Zhang who fired six aces as he raced to victory in less than an hour on Court 1.

In another surprising result of the day, India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan, the World No. 188, dispatched 10th-seed and 125-ranked Facundo Bagnis of Argentina 7-6(6), 7-5 to set up a penultimate round clash against Chinese Taipei’s Tung-Lin Wu, ranked World No. 247, who defeated Great Britain’s Jay Clarke in straight sets 6-2, 6-4.

This was the second encounter between the 26-year-old Ramanathan and the Rosario-born Argentine. The last time they met at the semi-final stage of the 2015 US Open qualifiers, luck was on the side of the 30-year-old Bagnis as he defeated his younger opponent in the tie-breaker.

Over on Court 1, the tournament’s fifth-seed, Taro Daniel of Japan, staged a comeback 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win against Dominican Republic’s Roberto Cid Subervi to advance to the second round where he is scheduled to meet Germany’s Maximilian Marterer. Marterer edged out Argentine Marco Trungelliti 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Court 6 earlier in the day.

With the win, the 27-year-old Florida-resident Daniel, who exited in the second rounds of last year’s Australian Open, extended his win-loss stat to 50-79.

The four-day tournament, which ends on January 13, is featuring 128 players fighting for the 16 slots available from the qualifiers of the season-opening Grand Slam scheduled for February 8-21 in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, Elias Ymer of Sweden, ranked 204, got the better of Australia’s Blake Mott in straight sets to book a Round 2 match against Switzerland’s Marc-Andrea Huesler, the 27th-seed, who earlier posted a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win against wild-card entrant Akira Santillan of Australia.

In the other matches of the day, Spain’s Mario Vilella Martinez made light work of his match against Italy’s Alessandro Giannessi with the 25-year-old World No. 186 defeating his Italian opponent 6-1, 6-3 in 61 minutes to book a second-round match against 19th-seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina.

Elsewhere, Ulises Blanch from the United States accounted for the 6-4, 6-1 defeat of Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov while Serbia’s Viktor Troicki won 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 against 23rd-seeded Jurij Rodionov of Austria.

The ticket-free tournament is open to all, and spectators will be allowed in on a first-come, first-served basis as only 30 percent stadium capacity is allowed in line with the essential health protocols and guidelines occasioned by the prevailing global COVID-19 pandemic.