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Wu continues astonishing run with upset win in Dallas

By Sun Xiaochen | | Updated: 2023-02-12 12:01
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Chinese sensation Wu Yibing beats top-seeded Taylor Fritz to enter the final of the ATP 250 tournament on Feb 11 in Dallas, Texas. [Photo by Daniel McEnrue/Dallas Open]

Chinese sensation Wu Yibing rewrote the country's tennis history on Saturday in Dallas, Texas after beating top-seeded Taylor Fritz to enter the final of the ATP 250 tournament, becoming the first man from the mainland to do so in the Open era.

Wu, entering the tournament as the world No 97, continued his surprising journey in Dallas with another jaw-dropping upset in the semifinals after he came back from a set down to stun world No 8 Fritz, 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-4, to secure a final appearance at a tour-level ATP event for the first time for a mainland player since 1968.

It was also the first win against a top-10 player by a mainland man since the ATP launched its world ranking system in August 1973.

As the winner of the 2017 US Open boys' tournament, Wu returned to the spotlight last summer as the first Chinese man to reach the third round in the singles main draw in New York as a qualifier.

He cracked the world's top 100 this week following a final run at an ATP Challenger event last week in Cleveland, Ohio to continue the inexorable rise which has propelled him into the elite ranks all from world No 1,800 last spring.

The unseeded 23-year-old is seeking his first tour-level title on Sunday against another local star John Isner, who beat fellow American JJ Wolf to enter his hometown event's final.

"It's amazing to be the first Chinese player in the final. I am happy for myself about how I performed today and these last few weeks. Hopefully, I will play better and this will stay with me," Wu said after the historic win.

With 149 ranking points already earned as of Saturday, Wu has soared 21 spots to reach No 76 in the live rankings and is set to become the highest-ranked Chinese mainland player in history, surpassing his compatriot Zhang Zhizhen who currently sits at No 91.

With a solid baseline game and much-improved confidence and poise, Wu survived all nine break points he faced against Fritz, including five when down a set and trailing 2-1 in the second set. Fritz fired 20 aces to Wu's six but it was the Chinese underdog who prevailed by capitalizing on two of his four break chances.

Showing no signs of nerves down the stretch, he served out the match to love with the same brand of fearless resolve he showed throughout the two-hour, 32-minute match. Wu celebrated by putting his hands on his head as he soaked in his achievement.

"I think saving nine break points is tougher than winning the match against him," Wu said. "It's a very tough thing to do."

"I just stayed patient because I know I am very solid on the baseline, so there was no rush in any important points, I just made balls. This gave me even more confidence so when I had break points I could go for some big shots."

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