During the early part of his professional career, 23-year-old American Jeffery John “J.J.” Wolf was more well-known for his ’80-style mullet haircut than his play on the tennis court. Ahead of the 2022 season, however, Wolf did away with the mullet and rebranded himself on-court as the next young American ready to take the leap towards the top of the world rankings.
Wolf is another college product, something that is becoming increasingly more prominent on the ATP Tour. He spent three seasons at Ohio State, turning pro in July of 2019 after going 35-2 for the Buckeyes during his junior season. The Ohio native was ranked in the back half of the 200s when he decided to turn his full focus to pro tennis, but many believed it would be a fast climb up the rankings for the 2019 Big Ten Player of the Year.
Unfortunately for Wolf, that was not the case. After spending the next 15 months climbing to as high as world #122, Wolf suffered a major setback. Two hernia operations kept the young American on the sidelines from November 2020 to July 2021. He returned to the tour very rusty and with a lot of ground to make up.
Since his return, Wolf has dealt with some inconsistencies but has shown he can compete with the best in the world. He beat Lorenzo Sonego in February and played Stefanos Tsitsipas and Roberto Bautista Agut in tight three-setters in March. It seems as if all of his hard work to find his fitness and form is paying off this August as Wolf is currently playing some of the best tennis of his life.
He entered the world’s Top 100 for the first time by reaching the Citi Open quarterfinals in early August, taking out Denis Shapolvalov and Holger Rune along the way. The confidence he gained in Washington, D.C. has certainly translated to Queens as the 23-year-old has found himself in the third round at the US Open.
Wolf at the 2022 US Open
Wolf avenged his March loss to Bautista Agut, taking him out in straight sets to begin his 2022 US Open campaign. He followed that up with a four-set victory over Alejandro Tabilo which has set up a third-round battle against the #23 seed Nick Kyrgios.
Kyrgios is currently playing some of, if not the, best tennis of anyone on tour. He has won 18 of his last 21 matches and holds a record of 33-9 this season. The fast courts of Flushing are playing right into the Aussie’s hands. With that said, Wolf is not someone Kyrgios should take lightly when they square off for the first time on Friday night in Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Wolf, who hits some pretty powerful groundstrokes himself, is really going to dig in against Kyrgios. He will try and frustrate the Aussie early, forcing him to hit one or two extra balls to win every point. With that said, Wolf should also look to be aggressive if he wants a chance in this one. You will not beat Nick Kyrgios playing defensively. Look for the American to use his big serve and first ball to his advantage.
If Wolf is to pull off this upset, he would have to play some of the best tennis of his life. That, however, is what the young American has been doing throughout most of the past month.
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