Indian qualifier Purav Raja has continued his giant-killing run at the Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off (AWP), upsetting two-time champion Wu Di of China.
After defeating Japanese top seed Hiroki Moriya, Raja beat 2012 and 2013 AWP champion Wu on Friday, and will now face Chinese No.1 Ze Zhang in Saturday’s semifinal.
Zhang was in sublime form in crushing Indian Yuki Bhambri 6-2 6-1 in just under an hour, and pleased the home fans with thunderous serving throughout the match which set up numerous forehand winners.
Zhang said he was excited by the prospect of playing in another Australian Open main draw: “this year I enjoyed the experience of playing Fernando Verdasco in round one. I won the first set but really struggled in the heat after that. I would love the opportunity to play in Melbourne again.”
Eighteen-year-old Hyeon Chung (KOR) earned a semifinal spot with a hard fought 4-6 6-4 6-3 victory over doubles partner and Davis Cup teammate Ji-Sung Nam.
Chung will start favourite in his semifinal against unseeded Chinese player Zhe Li, who caused another upset when he defeated highly fancied second seed Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2 6-4. Li roared with delight after clinching match point and will enjoy strong support from the vocal home crowd tomorrow.
Shenzhen local Shilin Xu kept Chinese hopes alive in the women’s singles event with a 3-6 6-2 6-4 victory over Miharu Imanishi (JPN).
Xu is only two wins away from a Grand Slam singles debut at the tender age of 16. Xu will face Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA) on Saturday in the third match on centre court; Tanasugarn was sublime form in routing Japanese opponent Nao Hibino 6-0 6-0.
When asked about the prospect of playing an opponent 21 years her junior, Tanasugarn said she would be ready for the challenge.
“Xu is a rising player and very exciting for Chinese tennis,” sher said.
“Hopefully I will play my best as I would love the opportunity to compete at the Australian Open again.
“I have mainly been focused on doubles this year but I made the semifinals in Toyota last week and am really inspired by the efforts of Kimiko Date-Krumm in her mid 40s.”
The second semifinal will see Kai-Chen Chang (TPE) take on second seed Eri Hozumi (JPN).
Chang defeated experienced Japanese opponent Rika Fujiwara convincingly 6-1 6-3 whilst Hozumi won an entertaining match against Su Jeong-Jang (KOR) 6-3 7-6 (2).
Chang received a wildcard into the event with her ranking having slipped to 452nd following a battle with injury. She will be aiming to defy her current ranking when she takes on the 146th-ranked Hozumi on Saturday.
Four players will win the rights to Australian Open entry tomorrow when the doubles finals are played.
In the men’s final, fourth seeds Ze Zhang (CHN) and Hsin-Hee Lee (TPE) take on Purav Raja (IND) and Ruben Gonzales (PHI) while in the women’s decider, Chinese national champions Zhaoxuan Yang and Qiuyu Le do battle with top seeds Chin-Wei Chan (TPE) and Chen Liang (CHN).
The accreditation for all winners will be presented by Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge here in Shenzhen.
For draws, scores and player information, check out our dedicated guide to theAustralian Open Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off.