Mackenzie McDonald doused the flame of China’s rising star Shang Juncheng in a testing encounter in Zhuhai on Thursday but won over local fans with a superb show of sportsmanship after the match.
Aware that his talented rival was cramping in both legs in the latter stages of an enthralling clash claimed by McDonald 6-4 6-7 (3) 6-3 in 2hr 36min, the American offered a hand.
The 6th seeded McDonald ran to the other end of the court after claiming victory and gave the ailing Shang a piggyback ride back to his chair to the delight of the crowd.
As his teenage rival, who displayed his immense promise with a dazzling array of shots, limped from the court, McDonald earned further applause when explaining his mother has Chinese heritage.
Shang praised the American for both his good grace after the match but also the quality of his play during a highly entertaining encounter.
“Macky is super nice. I think he's an amazing person and of course, he plays great tennis and everything," he said.
"It was a good battle and he fought to the end. I think I did too. Everyone … that came here, they wanted a good show and I think we gave them that.
“I mean, he carried me back to the chair. I want to thank him for that. I couldn't walk at the end, so that was really nice. I wish him the best.”
Shang was disappointed his body betrayed him in his first ATP Tour match on home soil but said he would learn from the experience.
“"I think I'm pretty clear with what I have to work on and clear with what I'm good at," Shang said.
"It's not the result I was hoping for but ... you winsome and you lose some and I think I'll learn from this and come back better."
Although Andy Murray is a history-making Olympian, the Scottish champion feelshe has unfinished business in the Games and wants to atone for a disappointment in Tokyo in 2021.
Fresh from a successful return to China in the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships, the first player to win back-to-back Olympic Gold Medals in singles is eyeing off a start in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“I'd love to play another Olympics. I have had thrilling experiences throughout my career at the Olympics. I've loved every single one that I've been involved in,” Murray said.
The 36-year-old, who defeated Chinese wildcard Mo Ye Cong 7-5 6-3 at the Hengqin International Tennis Center, claimed afamous gold in the London Olympics when beating Roger Federer at Wimbledon.
Four years later Murray, who will play former Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsevin Zhuhai on Saturday, defeated fellow US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in a superb final in Rio de Janeiro.
There is a gold letterbox in Murray’s hometown of Dunblane honoring his London gold and the Scot,who also has a silver medal in doubles, is understandably fond of the prestigious competition.
But he said a loss in the quarterfinals with Joe Salisbury at the Tokyo Olympics was a significant disappointment and he would love the opportunity to finish his Games career on a brighter note.
“I was really disappointed last time,” Murray said.
“I’d gotten an injury right before the tournament and I promised my partner … I would prioritize the doubles over singles if there was a problem. And we were very close to getting a medal in the doubles.
“We were up a set and 4-3, serving with game points in the quarterfinals and we had a really good chance and didn’t quite do it.
“So I was really disappointed with the last one and I would love another opportunity to play next year in Paris. It would be my fifth Olympics and most likely the last one.”
In other Day 2 news, Alex Bolt was in a dominant position in his clash against Diego Schwartzman when the Argentinian retired while trailing 6-3 4-2 on center court.
The Australian qualifier could not remember the last time he played on center court, though he has performed with distinction in his homeland on Rod Laver Arena in the past.
But having progressed past one former top 10-ranked player, he has another opportunity on Friday night against top seed Karen Khachanov, the ATP Pepperstone Rankings No.15.
The 30-year-old is on the comeback trail after elbow surgery in 2022 and is delighted to be finding some rhythm again on the tour.
“As a tennis player, that’s what you want to do. You want to play in the big courts. You want to play the best players,” he said.
“This week, (I’ve) been lucky enough to do that and come away with a win against a quality opponent.
“Karen's one of the best players in the world. I'm going to show him all the respect in the world. Butthen again, I mean, I’ve got weapons too, so I'm going to take it to him and give it my best.”