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Djokovic looks forward to more success from Chinese male players

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-12-27 09:11
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Novak Djokovic of Serbia poses during an exclusive interview with Xinhua in Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia, on Dec 26, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

RIYADH -- World number one Novak Djokovic gave all thumbs up to the success of Chinese tennis male players like Zhang Zhizhen and Wu Yibing in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua, and looks forward to more success from the Chinese male players.

Djokovic, who is playing the Riyadh Season Tennis Cup here in the capital of Saudi Arabia, said he was impressed with the performance of the Chinese male players in 2023.

"The rise of the male players like Zhang and Wu is vital for tennis in China, and in the men's side, having players that are breaking to the top 100 and top 50 in the world and trying to reach the greatest heights and compete for the greatest prices in tournaments in the sport is inspiring for the sport's growth," Djokovic said.

"China has seen more success in women's tennis. The sport's growth in the country needs to have male players breaking into the top ranks," he added.

Zhang became the first man from the Chinese mainland to reach the quarterfinals of an ATP 1000 tournament at this year's Madrid Open. He also reached last 32 in both French Open and US Open.

In July, Zhang rose to No. 52 in the world rankings, the highest position ever held by a Chinese mainland male player. The 27-year-old finished 58th in the year-end rankings.

Meanwhile, 24-year-old Wu became the first Chinese mainland player to lift an ATP Tour trophy with victory at the Dallas Open in February. And he reached his career-high ranking of world No. 54 in May.

Djokovic also shared his excitement about returning to China and the affection he holds for his Chinese fans.

"I haven't been to China since 2019, and I miss the fantastic times and success I've had in both Beijing and Shanghai, I'm really looking forward to being back. The support and love from my Chinese fans have always been overwhelming," he said.

On his first visit to Saudi Arabia, Djokovic expressed a keen interest in experiencing Saudi Arabian culture and history.

"I'm here for the first time, and there's so much to learn about this captivating country," he said, adding that he is looking forward to returning before 2030 for a more in-depth exploration.

The tennis star highlighted Saudi Arabia's significant achievement in securing the bid for the World Expo 2030, and sees the Expo as a critical platform for countries and regions to showcase their cultural and traditional heritage on a global stage.

"It's a big deal for Saudi Arabia to host the World Expo 2030. It symbolizes the country's growing presence on the global stage. I'm thrilled to see Saudi Arabia opening its doors to the world's best athletes, entertainers and business leaders," he added.

Ahead of his Riyadh Season Tennis Cup match against Carlos Alcaraz of Spain on Wednesday, Djokovic underscored the significance of this event for tennis in Saudi Arabia.

"Playing against Alcaraz, one of the top players in the world here in Riyadh is amazing for the sport. It reflects the increasing popularity of tennis in the region," he stated.

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