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ATP Dallas Open Final Recap

Wu Yibing in action ahead of the ATP Dallas Open.

John Isner was playing in his 31st ATP tour final. Wu Yibing was playing in his first. Isner was seeded fifth at the ATP Dallas Open whilst Wu, who was ranked outside the top 1000 last year, was playing without the benefit of being seeded. There was also more than a little contrast in their style of play. But would it be the veteran American or the Chinese young gun who came out on top?

ATP Dallas Open Final Recap

(5) John Isner vs Yibing Wu

In the first set, there was not much Wu could do against the Isner serve. His only real option was to make sure he took care of his own. As well as Isner was serving, Wu did have two chances to break but Isner kept strong and stayed on course. Isner thumped 17 aces in the opening set, winning 79% of the points behind his first serve.

That said, Wu did not face a single break point, with the set ultimately going to a tiebreak. It proved to be as tight as the preceding set had been. At least until the change of ends that is. After six points, the scores were level at 3-3, but Wu won just one more point thereafter as Isner made a decisive move to go to within a set of his 17th tour-level title.

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Isner’s serving masterclass continued in the second set as he struck a further 12 aces and did not allow Wu a single break point. But the American, not for the first time in his career, was not having much joy with his return. Wu did not allow him a single break point in his first five service games. But trailing 5-6, Wu looked to have succumbed to the pressure.

Isner forced a match point at 30-40. Wu, however, did what he has done throughout the ATP Dallas Open: he stayed focused, composed and kept pushing. The Chinese saved the match point and held serve, forcing a second tiebreak.

Wu took an early 3-0 lead in the breaker, but Isner won the next two points to stay in the contest. Wu, however, was not to be denied. His groundstrokes and defence were excellent as he won three points in a row to race out to a 6-2 lead. Isner saved one set point, but could not mount a comeback as Wu kept his hopes alive by winning the tiebreak 7-3.

Wu and Isner continued to dominate with their serves in the opening stages of the decider. Wu did come under pressure at 4-4, netting a backhand to hand Isner a break point. Had the American broken it surely would have been the end of the road for Wu. But instead the Chinese served his way out of trouble to put the pressure right back on Isner.

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The American stepped to the line and kept his composure, hitting his 37th ace to win the game. Wu held again for 6-5, ensuring that he would end the match withouth losing his serve once. Isner was again asked to hold to stay alive. Three more aces set him on his way to a hold and sent the match into a third tiebreak.

Isner tried to put the pressure on Wu early by coming to net at 2-2. Wu hit a beautiful backhand pass to take a 3-2 lead. The score was dead even at 3-3 at the change of ends. Isner hit his 42nd ace to arrive at his second championship point. Wu did not waver and the score was soon 6-6. Isner then hit a forehand wide and Wu had a championship point of his own.

The 43rd and 44th ace of the match by Isner secured him a third championship point. But Isner missed what should have been a routine volley at 8-7 to keep the match going. At 9-8, Wu had another championship point but Isner hit a clutch second serve to hold the young gun at bay.

Wu kept his dream alive of winning his first-ever ATP tour final by playing clutch defense and putting the pressure back on Isner at 11-10. A third championship point for Wu was thwarted by Isner coming to the net and this time putting the volley away.

But Wu secured another mini-break with the match on his racket this time. Isner, however, has been ranked inside the world’s top 10 for a reason. He evened things up at 12-12. Wu earned himself another championship point a moment later and the American hammered down a first serve, only for a fine Wu return down the line to draw a foreand error for the fifth seed.

It brought to an end a thrilling match and a superb week for Wu. This time last year, Wu was ranked #1,121. On Monday, he will be ranked 58th in the world. He also became the first Chinese man ever to win an ATP title. Isner, meanwhile, will rue his missed opportunities. One suspects, however, that he will not be the last player to be frustrated by Wu in a big match.

Main photo credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports


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