17-year-old Chinese tennis player, Shang Juncheng has created history by becoming the youngest player in the main draw of the Indian Wells since Donald Young in 2006.
Juncheng, who was a former junior World No.1 player is already making strides in the senior circuit. In the qualifying rounds, the Chinese teenager defeated Mats Moraing and also notched up his first win over top-100 players by getting the better of Francisco Cerundolo. Ranked 543rd in the world Juncheng defeated World No. 76 Cerundolo 7-6, 6-4 to make his debut at the BNP Paribas Open this year.
Needless to say, Juncheng was elated on becoming the first Chinese ATP player to make it to the main draw of the Indian Wells. Juncheng also proclaimed his playing style is very similar to Novak Djokovic and he said is a fan of his fellow southpaw, Rafael Nadal.
“It’s really special for me to be the first Chinese male player to play in the BNP Paribas Open main draw. So hearing that news is very special for me and I’m really excited to be here. I kinda play very similar to Djokovic and his style is one of my favorites on tour and also I’m a big Rafa fan,” he said.
“Being the youngest player here in the main draw makes me very happy and juniors and pros are really different,” he added.
Shang Juncheng’s career so far
Juncheng was ranked No.1 in the junior circuit and won 4 ITF titles, of which 3 of them were on clay. He has competed in only 8 tournaments so far and has an impressive 24-4 record in them. His best result at the junior Grand Slams was a runner-up finish at the US Open in 2021. He made his ATP debut at the 2022 Rio Open, when he received a wild card, but lost in straight sets to Pedro Martinez. Now with already a win against top-100 player to his name, Juncheng will be racing to go and notch up his first ATP win in the main draw.
The young southpaw currently resides and trains at the IMG Academy in Florida. The famed academy was home to many tennis prodigies including Andre Agassi, Serena Williams, and Maria Sharapova. Now, Juncheng will be keen on following in the footsteps of his seniors and having a career path akin to them.