Sinner Finds Solution to Cressy Challenge; Wu Yibing Makes Chinese History
After a week’s hiatus following the Australian Open, the ATP came back with a bang, with some big names participating in an exciting week of tennis.
In Montepellier, there was an unexpected hometown hero. The locals took to Maxime Cressy, an American, very quickly, realising that Cressy has strong links to France, having been born in France and represented France in his younger days. The French tennis federation didn’t hold out much hope for Cressy and cut him from their funding selection, causing Cressy to defect to the USA, who were willing to extend this privilege. When one compares the number of top French players to the number of top Americans, it is clear that the French federation cannot afford to keep making this type of mistake, as Cressy now sits at 40th in the world and has had another strong week, beating tournament favourite Holger Rune comfortably in the semi-finals. Beating Cressy on an indoor hard court looked to be an extremely difficult, almost impossible task, thanks to his efficient but retro serve and volley playstyle.
However, the best always find a way, and Jannik Sinner is certainly one of the best. Sinner beat Cressy 7-6 6-3, staying solid on serve and finding a way to break Cressy, when no other opponent had fashioned a break point against the American all week. Sinner, who was hot on the heels of the Top 10 recently, has seen his ranking dip slightly to 14, so needed a good week. He certainly delivered that. This was Sinner’s 7th ATP title, and the young Italian has only lost one final at tour level, with an overall record of 7-1 in finals.
Alongside Carlos Alcaraz, Sinner produced one of last year’s best matches at the US Open, in a thrilling 5 set battle which went into the depths of that summer night. Sinner was also a set away from taking out Djokovic at Wimbledon last year, falling just short at the right moments. The Italian certainly has the game to mix it with the best, he just needs to prove it over 5 sets, which is where he has fallen short in the past.
Sunday was also a historic day for Chinese tennis as Wu Yibing became the first Chinese player to win an ATP Title, stunning John Isner 6-7 7-6 7-6 in front of an American crowd in Dallas. Wu had already inscribed his name in tennis history by reaching the semi-finals, becoming the first Chinese man to make it that far in a tour level tournament, but went two steps further to win what will certainly be the first of many titles. Wu is just 23 years old and there will certainly be more to come from him.
Isner did not play badly by any stretch of the imagination, hitting 44 aces and even holding 4 championship points, but Wu held firm at the key moments to prevail. This was not for the first time that week, as Wu had managed to beat World Number 8 Taylor Fritz in the semi-finals as well as 3rd seed Dennis Shapovalov and 8th seed Adrian Mannarino in earlier rounds.
China, a nation which has struggled to produce high-quality tennis players for a plethora of reasons (which I may write about someday) and is still currently under the shadow of the Peng Shuai disappearance scandal, may finally be seeing the impact of the Li Na legacy, with another top player rising through the ranks. Regardless of your political views regarding China, it is great to see a player like Wu Yibing finally fulfil his potential, with him having suffered from a series of injuries which kept him off the tour for 3 years.