Tennis-Wu ends China’s 63-year wait for men’s Grand Slam match win

By Thomson Reuters Aug 29, 2022 | 2:57 PM

(Reuters) – Qualifier Wu Yibing gave China reason to cheer when he became the first man from the country in 63 years to win a men’s Grand Slam match after he beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3 6-4 6-0 in the first round of the U.S. Open on Monday.

Wu, who came through three qualifying matches, beat the 31st seed Basilashvili to walk in the footsteps of Fu Chi Mei, who overcame Ron Barnes in five sets in the first round of the 1959 Wimbledon Championships.

The 22-year-old Wu has come into the U.S. Open in a rich vein of form having won two ATP Challenger titles back-to-back while he has also seen a steep rise in the rankings, moving from 1,869 in March to a career-high 174 now.

He was the world’s number one junior and no stranger to winning at Flushing Meadows after clinching the boys’ singles and doubles titles in 2017 to become the first Chinese male to win a Grand Slam title of any kind.

But it has not been plain sailing for the Chinese prodigy, however, as he did not play from March 2019 to January 2022 due to injuries to his elbow — which required surgery — back, shoulder and wrist.

“I don’t really like to talk about those injuries in too (much) detail because every player has injuries,” Wu had told the ATP website.

“The mental strength that you have to go through the pain is part of the game.”

Wu was almost joined in the second round by compatriot and Chinese number one Zhang Zhizhen but the 25-year-old was beaten by Tim van Rijthoven, who saved seven match points in the third set to seal an improbable 3-6 6-7(4) 7-6(9) 6-1 6-4 victory.

But Wu has hope they can both do well to keep China’s flag flying high.

“We are both pushing Chinese men’s tennis levels and we’re still young… I think we’re going to get to the Top 100,” he added.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Pritha Sarkar)