Tennis Prose



Michael Zheng’s Breakout In Puerto Rico

By Scoop Malinowski

Longtime readers of this site may remember the name Michael Zheng and the interview I did with him three years ago after he was hitting partner for New York Open as a sixteen year old.

American born Zheng ended up going to Ivy League Columbia and completed his first year this year. This spring Zheng has continued to play some pro tournaments in Little Rock, Texas and this week at the Caribbean Open Puerto Rico Challenger.

In Puerto Rico, qualifier Zheng, from Montville, NJ, has defeated three top 250 opponents in Steven Diez, Marius Copil and today Alexis Galarneau to reach the semifinals.

Zheng is currently ranked 1118 but his ranking will improve significantly next week.

Today Zheng overpowered the Canadian Galarneau with his big forehand and improved serve by taking the first set 63, smashing winners in the final game that the lunging Galarneau could barely get his racquet on. Then in the second set, Galarneau used a long toilet break to stall the match and won the set 60 to force a decider which Zheng won 63.

Visually, Zheng reminds of Hurkacz, tall, rangy, smooth, perfect technique, first rate movement, big forehand, dangerous backhand, big serve too. Very technically sound with a very mature head, poise and comfort playing the big points. He looks like he belongs in the ATP upper echelons.

Astute pro tennis observers may remember Zheng had a second set match point on Arthur Fils at the Orange Bowl three years ago, only to lose in three sets. Fils ended up winning the title and since then has won an ATP title in Lyon and broken into the top 100 at no. 66 with wins over the likes of Francisco Cerundolo, Brandon Nakashima, Mike Ymer, Zhizhen Zhang, Stan Wawrinka, Quentin Halys, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Richard Gasquet in 2023.

Zhang also played a final earlier this year and lost to Yibing Wu in two close sets 75 76, the 23 year old Wu is now ranked 64.

So Michael Zhang is showing this week in Puerto Rico that he has the game, the mentality and the self belief that he belongs in the ATP top 60 with Wu and Fils.

Zheng, a former Wimbledon junior boys finalist in 2022, has put himself on the ATP map and could be given wildcards into Newport, Washington, and or the US Open this year.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · June 18, 2023 at 7:54 am

    Zheng beat Zhukayev in the semis 76 in the third and now will face Nishikori in the final, a SS winner vs Gustavo Heide. Zheng is playing top 100-250 range tennis now.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 18, 2023 at 12:19 pm

    Djokovic thanks #nolefam “I am grateful for all the support foremost from #nolefam. You are the best fans one can wish for. Thank you for standing by me when not many would. Know that I truly appreciate it…”

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    Nishikori won the final vs Zheng 62 75, which really is a fantastic result for both. Not sure where Kei’s level is at now but I would guess very high because he’s been training hard for months in Bradenton with some very good players. He’s finally healthy now so you have to think Kei is playing top 50 tennis and Zheng is also, he learned a lot from this final and the week. I see big possibilities for both this year. Excellent to see Kei back and new potential star being born in Michael Zheng.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 20, 2023 at 8:00 am

    Zheng now ranked 543 from 1118 a week ago.



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