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Editor’s Note: If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Zhuhai Championships would have been played this week. ATPTour.com looks back at a memorable moment from the event. This story was originally published on 29 September 2019.

It’s not every day that you’ll find a video of an ATP Tour player in an animal-shaped hat dancing to the viral song ‘Baby Shark’. But that’s exactly what Alex de Minaur did Tuesday in Zhuhai, another sign of players’ love for the Asian Swing, which has started for the Aussie at the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships, where he is into the championship match.

“I actually really like playing here. I think the fans here in China are like nowhere else. They’re really loud. I don’t think anywhere else I get given gifts by the fans,” De Minaur said. “So I really enjoy playing here and it’s always a special feeling once you come out here and you’re able to perform and play at a good level and get the win in front of these fans.”

Fans have been flocking to not just matches, but players’ practices just to watch stars such as De Minaur strike the ball, getting even more excited if they are able to snag a selfie or an autograph as the player departs the court. In some cases, fans even bring gifts customised for particular players.

“I’ve gotten a couple tea sets to drink tea and also I’ve gotten a very interesting hat which I might have to post tonight a video of,” De Minaur said. “It’s a pretty funny hat.” 

That video was viewed more than 125,000 times on Instagram alone in less than a day. And plenty of players have commented about how much they enjoyed it.

“They always have some special gifts in China,” commented Italian Andreas Seppi, who reached the last eight at the inaugural ATP 250 event.

Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur simply left five laughing emojis. Perhaps that’s because Dzumhur, who advanced to the quarter-finals in Zhuhai, knows a thing or two about getting gifts at this tournament.

“I got one gift yesterday as well,” Dzumhur said. “I got a small bowl with some Chinese paintings with a nice message from a fan.”

Overall, it’s not simply about the gifts to the players. But they all enjoy the energetic atmosphere that the fans provide, with people in the crowd hanging onto every shot — whether in practice or a match.

“I think they just really enjoy seeing the best tennis players and I really like how they see it that way. It’s a little bit different in Europe, a little bit different in the U.S. But here, it’s special,” Dzumhur said. “They’re so amazed by some of the players and they really love to watch tennis. They really love to see somebody, they love to appreciate that, and by that they are giving some gifts and that was definitely a special gift that they gave Alex.”


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