The fast-rising Wu Yibing scored the biggest win of his blossoming career on Saturday at the Dallas Open. In addition to the personal milestone of his first Top 10 victory against Taylor Fritz, the 23-year-old became the first Chinese man to reach an ATP Tour final in the Open Era.
In a 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-4 triumph, Wu used his well-rounded game to upset the top seed in a match of the highest quality from both sides of the net. Despite facing an American, Wu's irresistible skills in both attack and defense earned him his fair share of support in Dallas. He finished with 34 winners, including two in a row to close out the match in style.
"When I'm playing tonight, I wasn't thinking about the score or winning or losing. I'm just trying to perform my best," he said in his on-court interview, before addressing the fans. "You guys are amazing, cheering for us every point. Thanks, guys!"
Enterting the week at a career high of World No. 97, Wu has soared 21 spots to No. 76 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings behind his final run. He is now set to become the highest-ranked Chinese player in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, passing Zhang Zhizhen, who currently sits at a career high No. 91.
After letting slip two set points at 5-4 in the opening set — one with a rare forehand miss — Wu saved five break points to hold for 2-2 in the second. He would face only one more, at 4-3 in the third, when he escaped with some dazzling defending in the face of a line-clipping forehand from Fritz.
"I remember I had two set points in the first set. I have to say I choked a little bit," he said with a laugh. "That forehand, I didn't miss much, but I couldn't make it. But in general I think I'm pretty relaxed."
Showing no signs of nerves down the stretch, he served out the match to love with the same brand of fearless tennis he played throughout the two-hour, 32-minute contest. Wu celebrated by putting his hands on his head as he soaked in his latest achievement.
Another American awaits in the final: Dallas resident John Isner, who defeated J.J. Wolf 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) earlier on Saturday (Read Match Report). In stark contrast to what will be Wu's first final, Isner will be seeking his 17th tour-level title in his 31st championship match.