After nine days of intense competition, the 2018 Zhuhai Tennis Open at the Hengqin International Tennis Center closed on March 11 with Australian Alex Bolt and Belgian Maryna Zanevska as surprise singles champions.
Bolt, whose Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) career-high ranking is 164 in singles and 93 in doubles, was unstoppable force as he rose from qualifications to the podium.
On March 11, the opening set of the Men's Singles final started with a hotly contested 7-5 lead for Hubert Hurkacz. The Pole, an accomplished player who once cracked into Boys' Doubles final at the 2015 Australian Open, soon found little to celebrate.
Bolt disregarded the early loss and got into rhythm. He pushed back relentlessly to level the game at 1-1 with expert use of short balls and intercepts in the second set. Multiple rounds of returns down the line brought the match to a climax.
Maryna Zanevska volleys at 2018 Zhuhai Tennis Open [Photo by Zhu Xi / Zhuhai Daily]
Even though the competition was more relaxed, the Aussie didn't relinquish his grip. In the deciding set, he displayed a domineering performance of technique. Under pressure, Hurkacz made a series of unforced serving faults before losing 2-6.
Things went more smoothly in the Women's Singles final for Zanevska, a doubles titleholder of the 2009 US Open and the 2011 French Open. Her opponent, Marta Kostyuk, is a Ukrainian whose age is 15. This soon started to show as her nerves and lack of experience allowed the veteran to win 2 sets to nil.
The Zhuhai Tennis Open has been held annually since 2015. It augments the city's annual sports schedule as a top-notch tennis competition second only to the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai. Sponsored by the Chinese Tennis Association, it is overseen by Huafa Group.
More than 120 international tennis aces participated this year, vying for an increased prize pool of $135,000. Denisa Allertova, last year's women's singles champion and one of the Final 16 at the Australian Open 2018, was in the lineup. Chinese players Zhang Ze, Wu Di, Zhang Zhizhen, and Wang Xinyu, also failed to advance.