Fresh from playing a starring role for Great Britain in the Davis Cup last week, former world No.1 Andy Murray is a headline attraction in a stellar field for the Zhuhai Championships beginning on Wednesday.
The dual-Wimbledon champion is among nine top 50-ranked players competing in an event that welcomes elite tennis players back to China and will play Mo Ye Cong in the opening round.
Rising Chinese talent Shang Juncheng and Japanese star Yoshihito Nishioka helped launch the 2023 Zhuhai Championships at the official draw held on the 45th floor of the new IFC Tower in Hengqin on Monday.
Karen Khachanov, a semi-finalist at the Australian Open and Roland Garros this year, is the top seed for the ATP Tour 250 tournament at the Hengqin International Tennis Center.
Murray’s Davis Cup compatriot Cameron Norrie is the second seed in a draw that promises several exciting matches in a tournament running between September 20 and 26, 2023.
Other leading contenders for the second edition of the Zhuhai Championships include former Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev, Americans Sebastian Korda and Mackenzie McDonald, German Jan-Lennard Struff and Argentina’s Tomas Matin Etcheverry.
The clash between McDonald and Shang shapes as a highlight of the opening round of the tournament, with first round matches scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
Shang, who defeated recent US Open sensation Ben Shelton in consecutive weeks in America recently, is thrilled to be competing in what is shaping as an intriguing tournament.
The 18-year-old boy, who qualified for the Australian and French Opens this year and won his first grand slam match in Melbourne, has enjoyed a good success at ATP Challenger level.
“I know Mackenzie is the sixth seed but he has just come off the Davis Cup”, he said.
“I have already been here a few days and this is my home court, so I am a bit confident. I am looking forward to this match and I hope to play well here in Zhuhai.”
Nishioka, who reached the last 16 at the Australian and French Opens this year, has enjoyed his greatest ATP Tour successes in the Asian region.
The eighth seed, who won his first ATP Tour title in Shenzhen in 2018, played in a Challenger in Zhuhai early in his career and is looking forward to the week ahead.
He plays in-form Frenchman Terence Atmane, who won at ATP Challenger title in Guangzhou last week, in the opening round.
“I won my first ATP Tour event in China and I have played well here. It is always enjoyable to play in China and to compete in Asia again,” he said.
Joining Sheng as wildcards in the tournament are Chinese players Mo Ye Cong, who will play Murray in the first round, Zhou Yi and Li Zhe.
Zhuhai Championships tournament director Leon Sun said fans attending the event were in for a treat given the quality of the draw and the calibre of opening round matches.
“I am thrilled with the depth of the player field at this year’s Zhuhai Championships”, he said.
“It is clear that the players have welcomed the opportunity to play in China again.”
Zhuhai is one of the 11 major Chinese cities in the Greater Bay Area, a region which is the home to more than 71 million people. It is considered an ideal host for a quality ATP Tour 250 tournament.
In an innovative move expected to make it easier for fans to attend the tournament, the main draw for the Zhuhai Championships will begin on Wednesday, September 20.
The Zhuhai Championships final will be held at night on Tuesday, September 26.
The fan-friendly move will allow spectators who are attending on the weekend to watch more live tennis with second round and quarter-final matches scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
It also creates an opportunity to draw a significant attendance in Zhuhai and broader television audiences globally for the semi-finals and finals held on September 25 and 26.