In this article, Tennis has historically been dominated by several countries – United States, Spain, Switzerland and Serbia being prominent examples. But recently a new wave of players from different regions has come onto the scene, shaking up established order and adding diversity and excitement to the sport – one such player being Shang Juncheng who is quickly making headlines with his performances and accomplishments.
Early life and junior career
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Shang Juncheng was born February 2, 2005 in Beijing, China to former athletes: Shang Yi was a footballer while Wu Na was an exceptional table tennis player. At six years old he began playing tennis, quickly developing both natural talent and passion for it. Soon thereafter he moved on to train at IMG Academy Bradenton Florida under some of the greatest coaches and players worldwide until eventually leaving home at 12 to attend IMG College Bradenton at age 12.
Shang first made his ITF Junior Circuit debut in 2019 and won his inaugural tournament – becoming the first player born in 2005 to do so He eventually rose to become number one in ITF junior rankings in July 2021 after reaching quarterfinals at French Open and Wimbledon and reaching final at US Open; as well as taking Orange Bowl title defeating top seed Holger Rune in its final. In December 2021 he also defeated top seed Holger Rune and became champion.
Shang turned professional in 2021 and was granted a wildcard to play his inaugural ATP Tour event – the Rio Open – in February 2022. Although he lost in the first round to Pedro Martinez, it gave him valuable experience and exposure. Later that same month he qualified for his first Masters 1000 event – Indian Wells in March 2022, becoming both first Chinese male participant as well as youngest Grand Slam men’s qualifier since Carlos Alcaraz at 2021 Australian Open.
Shang claimed his first Challenger Tour trophy in Lexington, United States in August 2022 at just 17 years of age, becoming both the youngest Chinese and youngest winner since Carlos Alcaraz won at Alicante two years earlier. By September he had made it into the Top 200 world rankings rankings.
Shang made his Grand Slam debut by qualifying for the Australian Open in January 2023, where he beat Federico Delbonis in four sets in his inaugural Grand Slam match and lost to 10th seed Jannik Sinner in round two, but showed great potential and resilience. Additionally, he qualified for both French Open and Wimbledon 2023 but lost in their respective qualifying rounds; qualifying for Paris however only to lose to 13th seed Aslan Karatsev five sets to one. Nonetheless he reached round seven qualifying of US Open qualifying where he lost to 25th seed Mackenzie McDonald in an intense encounter before falling short against 25th seed Mackenzie McDonald who would prevailed.
Shang achieved his career-high singles ranking of world No. 149 on July 31, 2023, and currently sits at No. 160 as of August 21st 2023. Coach Dante Bottini previously worked with Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic before.
Playing style and strengths
Shang is a left-handed player using a two-handed backhand. His game includes powerful serves, solid forehands and consistent backhands; agility on court; quick responses when shifting surfaces; attacking/dictating rallies but can defend and counterpunch when necessary; an exceptional tennis IQ who adapts his game plan according to opponent and situation; as well as mental strength to take on challenges head-on and not retreat.
Shang has received high marks from experts and fans for his talent and potential, often being compared with some of the greatest players ever like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Furthermore, Andy Murray, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev have all expressed support and encouraged him in their careers.
Future goals and aspirations
Shang has publicly declared his ultimate aim is to become the world No. 1 and win Grand Slam titles. Additionally, his aim is to inspire more people in China and Asia to participate in and watch tennis while representing his nation with pride and honor. Already making history by qualifying for Grand Slam tournaments and winning Challenger tournaments – Shang remains committed to reaching more milestones and breakthroughs along his journey in tennis’ journey towards global dominance.
Shang is one of the most promising and exciting players of his generation, and looks set for a bright future in Chinese tennis. A potential superstar of Chinese tennis, he should definitely be watched and followed as he pursues his goals and aspirations.