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Yibing Wu became the first Chinese player to attain an ATP Tour title, rallying in a three-set, all-tiebreaker thriller to beat John Isner in the Dallas Open on Sunday.
Wu overcame 44 aces from the big-serving Isner — one shy of tying a three-set record — and four match points in the 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (12) victory. The 23-year-old was the first Chinese player in an ATP final.
Wu also came back from a set down to beat top-seeded American Taylor Fritz in the semifinals. There were no service breaks in Wu’s triumph over the fifth-seeded Isner, who was playing in his hometown tournament.
“It’s not only about winning the title, I think it’s more about me personally making history and also for the country,” said Wu, who was the first Chinese man to reach the third round of the US Open when he did it as a qualifier last year.
“That’s huge for the next generation,” Wu said. “For me, I need to keep going, keep my body healthy. I’m sure there’s more to come.”
Leading 8-7 in the third-set tiebreaker, Isner came to the net for an easy volley that hit the top of the net and stayed on Isner’s side.
The 6-foot-10 American sensed the opportunity lost, sitting for a few moments and fiddling with the strings on his racket.
Wu saved another match point at 10-9 and had four match points of his own in the final tiebreaker before finally converting on Isner’s serve when Isner sent a forehand long off Wu’s return.
Wu fell on his back in disbelief, staying down long enough for Isner to come across the net to congratulate him.
It was the first tiebreaker in a decisive set in Wu’s career, who climbed into the top 60 of the rankings for the first time.
Battling injuries that kept him out for most of 2019-20 before the pandemic sidelined him even longer, Wu was No. 1,121 a year ago.
“I’ve been through a lot of things,” Wu said. “I think the reason now I’m relaxed on tennis courts is I trust myself. If you want to beat me, you have to work hard.”
Since his return, Wu has a 50-10 match record and had won three ATP Challenger titles before his Dallas breakthrough.
Isner was trying for his 17th career title in his 31st final. He made the semifinals in the inaugural Dallas Open last year before losing to eventual champion Reilly Opelka in the semifinals.