Los Angeles (AFP): Wu Yibing overcame a ferocious bombardment from John Isner to become the first Chinese man to win an ATP Tour title at the Dallas Open on Sunday.
The 23-year-old from Hangzhou saved four match points before claiming a 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (14/12) victory in just under three hours to clinch his maiden ATP victory.
Wu, who has surged up the global rankings in the past year from 1,869th last March to 97th in the world, collapsed on the court in delight following his victory.
It came after a pulsating battle with the big-serving Isner, who had threatened to overwhelm the Chinese player with a barrage of 44 aces during the contest.
Isner’s eye-popping ace tally was just one short of the all-time record for aces in a three-set ATP Tour match of 45 set by Ivo Karlovic in 2015.
“I made history here for my country. I’m very proud of myself,” Wu said in on-court remarks following his win.
“It was a very tough match today. I’m facing, I don’t know, 100 aces.”
Isner meanwhile paid tribute to Wu’s performance after the defeat.
“You’re gonna be a very, very bright spot for the sport of tennis into the future,” Isner said.
The 37-year-old Isner was left ruing a golden chance to clinch his 17th title after squandering a match point in the second set when he led 30-40 and 6-5 on Wu’s serve.
With the court at his mercy, Isner sunk a return into the net and Wu survived before going on to level with victory in the tie-break to set up a decider.
After neither player was able to engineer a service break in the opening two sets, the pattern continued in the third with the game going serve to set up another tie-breaker.
Isner had another match-point opportunity after taking a 6/5 lead in the breaker, but again was unable to take advantage.
Both players saved match points as the tension mounted, before Wu eventually earned his fifth match point at 13-12 in the tie-breaker on Isner’s serve.
Wu did well to get pace on his backhanded return of a wide serve by Isner, and the American yanked his forehand high and long to hand Wu victory.
The win is another impressive milestone for Wu, who last year became the first player from China to reach the third round of the US Open. Wu’s emergence in the professional ranks follows a successful career as a junior, where he was an Australian Open singles semi-finalist in 2017 before going on to win the boys’ singles crown at the US Open later that year.