Hangzhou (China) (AFP) – Zhang Zhizhen fought back to become the first Chinese men’s singles tennis champion at the Asian Games since 1994 with victory over Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki on Saturday in Hangzhou.
It caps a strong few months for Zhang, who was the first man from China to beat a top-five player last month when he defeated Casper Ruud to reach the last 32 at the US Open.
The 26-year-old from Shanghai also reached the same stage at this year’s French Open and he carried on that form to defeat Watanuki 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) in the Hangzhou final.
“In the first set I told myself to calm down because I was rushing too much,” said Zhang.
“And in the second set, to be patient, keep going, keep going all the time and try to find some chances.”
In front of a roaring home crowd, the 60th-ranked Zhang made a slow start and fell 4-1 behind in the first set after being broken twice by 77th-ranked Watanuki.
But he won the next five games to take the first set, then held his serve for 4-3 in a pivotal seventh game in the second.
The pair continued to slug it out into a tiebreak, before Zhang converted his third match point and hurled away his racquet in celebration.
India’s Rohan Bopanna, a former Grand Slam mixed doubles champion, added to his collection of titles at the age of 43.
Along with Rutuja Bhosale, they defeated Taiwan’s Liang En-shuo and Huang Tsung-hao after a super-tiebreak, 2-6, 6-3, 10-4, for mixed doubles gold.
Chan Hao-ching and Chang Yung-jan won gold in the women’s doubles by beating fellow Taiwanese pair Lee Ya-hsuan and Liang 6-4, 6-3.