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China's tennis ace Wu Yibing motivates next-gen

By Sun Xiaochen | | Updated: 2023-02-13 14:41
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Wu Yibing of China poses with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after winning the Dallas Open in Dallas, Texas, US February 12, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

After making his country proud by becoming the first Chinese man to win an ATP singles title, China's top tennis ace Wu Yibing feels more pride in motivating the next generation to dream bigger, aim higher and achieve more.

With a hard-fought win against one of the world's best servers on the opponent's home court, Wu etched his name in tennis history on Sunday in Dallas, Texas, after beating former world No 8 John Isner of the United States in three sets – all going into tiebreakers – to claim his maiden ATP tour-level singles trophy and become the first Chinese man to do so.

After winning $112,125 in prize money and 249 ranking points, Wu's title run in Dallas saw him jumping to No 58 on ATP's live world ranking, all the way from falling out of No 1,800 last March, when he returned to international play following a three-year injury-enforced absence from the professional circuit.

The win continued Wu's inexorable foray into the top echelon of the men's game, realizing a decades-long dream of Chinese tennis to match its women's success on the men's side.

"It's like every day I'm making different history and of course I'm happy for that," said Wu, who entered the Dallas Open on Monday ranked within the top 100 for the first time at No 97 and made new personal and national records with each round he advanced.

"But I think the most important thing is I actually giving more hopes to the next generation. So they are going to have even higher goals or standards, not just like breaking top 100 or winning ATP titles. They should shoot for bigger goals."

Entering Sunday's final as the underdog facing local pride Isner, Wu kept his cool facing the trademark barrage of shots from the 2.08-meter-tall power hitter, overcoming 44 aces from the big-serving American – one shy of tying a three-set record – and four match points to outplay Isner, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (12), in nearly three hours.

Wu's combination of power, agility and accuracy on the baseline brought him 41 winners, including seven aces, while he also won 13 points at the net.

"It's like he plays every point the same, so definitely no nerves," Isner, who is currently ranked 37th, said of Wu's performance. "He gets a ball to hit, he hits it, and on this court it's hard to hit him a shot he is uncomfortable with… He is an unbelievable ball striker and a very good talent."

Citing fatigue and a cold, Wu had decided to withdraw from his next scheduled event – another ATP 250 tournament at Delray Beach, Florida, – and will prepare for his debut main draw appearance at the 1000 Masters tournament at Indian Wells, California.

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