Mackenzie McDonald and Juncheng Shang experienced a heartwarming moment of support and sportsmanship after their match at the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships, leading to a standing ovation from the crowd.
The ATP 250 event in China is taking place between September 20-26 at the Hengqin International Tennis Center. This is the first time that the ATP Tour has played in the country since 2019 after strict COVID-19 restrictions made it difficult to compete there in recent years.
Sixth seed and World No. 39 McDonald took on rising talent and home player Shang in the Round of 32. The match was tightly contested for the most part, with the American winning the first set 6-4 only for Shang to come back and win the next set on a tiebreak, 7-6 (3).
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McDonald gives Shang a piggyback
However, a fall from Shang late in the third and final set seemed to affect the 18-year-old's movement and McDonald won the set 6-3 to take the match.
After the match was concluded, the 28-year-old could see that his opponent was hurt from the fall, so he ran over to his side of the court to shake hands instead of making Shang walk to the net. He then realized that the World No. 158 would struggle to make it back to the bench, so gave him a piggyback to help him along, evoking a standing ovation from the crowd.
"I knew he was struggling so I ran to him to shake his hand," McDonald told ATPTour.com, "He said, ‘Good match’, and he said, ‘Can you help me to the bench?’ I said, ‘Hop on’. So he jumped on my back and I carried him over to the bench and he said, ‘Good match, man."
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McDonald went on to face Belgium's Kimmer Coppejans in the Round of 16 at the tournament, coming back from a set down to win the match 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. He is now preparing to play in the quarter-finals of the Zhuhai Championships.