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Making the main draw of a Grand Slam event is a fine achievement, but not the most important thing for China's top male tennis players right now, Zhang Ze's coach said.
Zhang bagged two Grand Slam qualifier wins in a row (at the French Open and Wimbledon) this year, while compatriot Wu Di recently won a wild-card berth at the 2013 Australian Open. Both are also closing on world rankings in the top 150.
Still, both players should lower their sights and focus on making more practical tournament plans, said Zhang's French coach Guillaume Peyre (pictured) during the China Tennis Grand Prix last week.
"If (Zhang) only plays big tournaments, there's a big chance he will lose and not get any points," Peyre said. "If you play in the main draw (of majors), you can easily lose in the first round when facing the likes of Nadal, Federer or Djokovic then you make no points. That's why I say big tournaments are only a bonus.
"Your sights should be on passing through the qualifiers or going to play Challengers (lower level ATP tournaments). (Chinese players) are not far off the top level, but they need to prepare excellent schedules and pick the right events."
Zhang, who missed out on the Australian Open main draw berth when he lost to Wu in the second round of the Asia Pacific wild-card playoff, said he's not up to that standard just yet, although he beat French world No 11 Richard Gasquet at the China Open this month.
"After that match, a lot of people felt like I was already a top-50 level player. It's just a breakthrough that happened by chance. I know where I am now, so I will take it slowly and steadily," said Zhang, who won the men's doubles title at the China Tennis Grand Prix with Gong Maoxin on Monday.
"I will have a mixed schedule next season. I will play lower tournaments to secure my ranking as well as some bigger events for a potential rise," said the current world No 154.
Peyre said there remains room for Zhang to improve his game before cracking the top 100. "The first goal has to be keep improving," said Peyre, a former mentor of 2006 Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus."The ranking will come if he improves. He needs to keep working on a lot of things, especially on fitness and his serve. If he continues, for sure, he has a big future."
(China Daily 10/31/2012 page22)