Wu Yibing stunned top-seeded Taylor Fritz 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-4 at the Dallas Open on Saturday to become the first Chinese man to reach an ATP final in the Open Era.
The 23-year-old followed up victories over third-seeded Denis Shapovalov and eighth-seeded Adrian Mannarino, and was already just the second Chinese man to reach a tour-level semifinal in the Open Era, joining Pan Bing who made the last four in Seoul in 1995.
Wu said that kind of history wasn’t on his mind against Fritz, nor was he even thinking ahead to a victory that lined up a title clash with fifth-seeded American John Isner.
“When I played today I wasn’t thinking about any score or winning. I just tried to perform my best,” he said in his on-court interview after closing out the match with two of his 34 winners.
After Fritz managed to pull out a first set that lasted 58 minutes, Wu had to fight off five break points in the fourth game, and was down 0-30 in the 10th game.
He managed to hold serve, break Fritz and hold again to pocket the set, and made a break in the fifth game of the third set stand up for his first career win over a top-10 player.
Wu, who reached a career-high 97 in the world rankings last week, is poised to become the highest-ranked Chinese player in the history of the world rankings, passing Zhang Zhizhen, who currently sits at 91st.
On Sunday he’ll face an experienced opponent in Isner, who advanced to his 31st ATP final with a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4) victory over fellow American JJ Wolf.
Isner’s big serve helped him overcome an otherwise sluggish performance.
“I saved a lot of break points with unreturnable serves. Without that I would have been dusted off the court 6-3, 6-4,” Isner said.