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ATP Dallas Open – Semifinal Recap

Taylor Fritz in action ahead of the ATP Dallas Open.

The final at the ATP Dallas Open is set. After a week of thrilling play on the court, just two men are still standing. Three Americans took to the court and both semifinals went the distance. Here at LWOT, we’re taking a look back at the semifinal action:

ATP Dallas Open Semifinal Recaps

(5) John Isner vs (6) J.J. Wolf

The semifinal clash between Americans John Isner and J.J. Wolf had a bigger story to tell than just the play on the court. Wolf was trying to make his second ATP final after making his first last year in Italy in Florence. Isner was trying to go one better after losing to Reilly Opelka in the last four a year ago.

When coming up against John Isner, players typically expect to face a lot of aces and have few, if any, chances to break. But in actuality, Isner only struck six aces in the first set. But the big man was still holding comfortably in the early stages.

In the fifth game, he quickly went up 40-15 and another easy hold looked to be on the cards. But Wolf had other ideas. He won the next three points to earn his first break point chance of the match. Isner did get back to deuce twice, but Wolf kept the pressure up and converted his third break-point chance of the game.

Wolf remained dominant on serve. He did not face one break point and was able to take the opening set 6-3. The second set surprisingly saw a lot of break point opportunities for both players. Isner faced five break points on his serve while Wolf faced four. Isner held in the opening game of the second set, but when Wolf stepped to the line for his opening service game of the second set it was a struggle.

Isner took the first two points make a fast start and he had two break chances at 15-40. The game went to deuce four times and Wolf faced three break points. But through sheer grit and determination, Wolf was able to hold.

Wolf’s chance came at 2-2. He raced to a 0-40 lead and he looked to be in great position to break Isner’s serve. But Isner hit back, winning four straight points to get to game point. He couldn’t take it and Wolf forced another break point, but Isner’s serve pulled him through and he held firm.

Momentum continued to swing back and forth, with the decisive moment arriving in the 12th game of the set. Wolf had been serving superbly, but it was ultimately his serve that let him down. Facing a set point, a second serve at 30-40 hit the top of the net and landed out to hand Isner the second set.

In the final set of the semifinal, neither player faced a break point with Isner and Wolf put on a serving masterclass. They each won over 80% of their first serve points and hit a combined 19 aces in this set, Isner accounting for 13 of those. Not even one game went to deuce in this set and the match culminated in a final-set tiebreak.

Isner ramped up his game to grab a 4-0 lead in the breaker. Wolf was able to get the score back to 4-3 to put the pressure back on Isner. But Isner, with all his experience, was able to overcome it. After a long rally, Isner put away a simple volley to get across the line and reach the final at the ATP Dallas Open courtesy of a 3-6 7-5 7-6 win.

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(1) Taylor Fritz vs Yibing Wu

When top seed Taylor Fritz took on China’s Wu Yibing in the second semifinal, it seemed the ATP Dallas Open was heading for an All-American final. But all week, Wu’s groundstrokes have been nothing short of superb and the Chinese has impressed in wins over Michael Mmoh, Denis Shapovalov and Adrian Mannarino.

Wu was tested early on, finding himself 0-40 down in his second service game of the match. But he won the next four points and managed to dig himself out of trouble. He then forced a set point of his own with Fritz serving at 4-5. But Fritz held firm and the set ultimately went to a tiebreak.

During the tiebreak, Fritz was in control, heading to the change of ends with a 4-2 lead, and that proved to be decisive. Fritz was able to maintain his momentum and he took the tiebreak 7-3. It was the tenth tiebreak the American had played in 2023 and the ninth that he had won.

It also left Wu needing to go the distance against the top seed. He came under pressure early in the second set, with Fritz forcing four break points in the fourth game. Wu resisted the American’s pressure, however, and when his own chance came, he took it. Fritz was on course to hold in the 10th game, but Wu worked his way to break point courtesy of some excellent changes of pace.

He broke and served the set out, displaying impressive composure as he took the match to a third and decisive set. Wu had the momentum after the second set and kept the pressure on Fritz, breaking the American’s serve at 2-2. Wu was tested as he tried to close the match out, facing a break point up 4-3, but Fritz could not get back on serve.

Wu would have the opportunity to serve his way into his first ATP final and demonstrated once again why he has such a bright future in this sport. He held to love to wrap up the match. Crucially, whilst Wu broke twice, Fritz when none for nine on break point.

A year ago, Wu was ranked #1749. He has now become the first player from China to reach an ATP final in the Open Era and his ranking will be inside the top 80 whatever happens when he steps on to court to face Isner in the ATP Dallas Open final.

Main photo credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports


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