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Chinese duo settle for silver in Shanghai Open
( 2003-09-29 10:38) (China Daily)

China's hope of snatching its first-ever ATP title was dashed yesterday as Chinese wildcard duo Zhu Benqiang and Zeng Shaoxuan were toppled 2-6, 4-6 by top-seeded Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley from Australia in the doubles final of the Shanghai Heineken Open.

Australians turned out to be biggest winners in the US$380,000 event as another Aussie, No 3 seed Mark Philippoussis, earlier yesterday bagged the singles title with a devastating 6-2, 6-1 win over top-seeded Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic in just 45 minutes.

But the open was a historic achievement for China anyway, as prior to the event, no Chinese tennis players had been able to make it to the finals of any ATP international tour level tournaments.

"We'd not see the defeat (in the final) as a shame...it's a breakthrough for us," said 24-year-old Zhu.

Cheered by the enthusiastic home fans, the Chinese pair started the match in a spirited way, posing challenges to their opponents with sharp serves and smart forays at the net.

However, from 2-2 in the first set, the more experienced Australian duo began to take command with powerful yet precise serves and returns, breaking the Chinese pair in the fifth and seventh game and closing the set easily at 6-2.

Although the Chinese played stiffer tennis in the second set and managed to tie the score at 4-4, two consecutive double faults by Zhu in the ninth game enabled their opponents to gain a critical advantage, when Arthurs crushed the Chinese duo's final resistance with rocket serves and eventually sealed the match 6-4.

The Australians fired 10 aces in the one-hour match while their Chinese opponents committed up to seven double faults in their serves.

"We need more time to get used to the way foreign players play, such as their powerful serves, and I believe if we have opportunities to play more matches, we will do better against them," said 22-year-old Zeng.

"We are still young, which means we have many opportunities ahead to improve ourselves," he added.

"What I felt was best was our serves, which I believe were as good as those of the foreign players in terms of speed and killing power," said Zhu.

Zhu attributed their achievement to their intensive training in Spain, which enabled the duo to play so many matches and gain a lot of experience in competing with foreign players.

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