Zhang Shuai meets round three Australian Open end

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SYDNEY, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- World No. 74, Zhang Shuai became the last Chinese player to exit the singles bracket of this year's Australian Open as she lost her round three match to Belgian world No. 26 Elise Mertens.

The 33-year-old tennis veteran found little reprieve against Mertens, losing in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.

The Belgian put on the pressure from the outset, double-breaking Zhang in the first set, and quickly securing a three-love lead.

Zhang was able to break back and hold one more service game, however, crippled by some 12 unforced errors to Mertens' two, was unable to stage a comeback.

Mertens carried her momentum into the second set as she blazed ahead with a four-one lead in just over 20 minutes. Zhang made some final resistance but was ultimately beaten down by Mertens' relentless service game.

The world No. 26 will now progress to the round of 16, as she has for the past two years, where she will face American world No. 30 Danielle Collins.

As she exits from the singles bracket, Zhang will have little rest before her round-one mixed doubles match with Australian partner John Peers on Saturday afternoon.

Zhang has participated in the Australian Open for the last 11 consecutive years, with a personal best of reaching the quarterfinals back in 2016.

The Chinese star's Australian Open journey had already seen her traverse considerable hurdles, as she upset world No. 12 Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan in her round two match. Enditem

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