Wu Yibing made history on Sunday when he triumphed in a three tie-break Dallas Open final against John Isner to become the first Chinese ATP Tour titlist.
After Wu earned the biggest victory of his career, the 23-year-old spoke to ATPTour.com about the importance of his win back home, overcoming injuries, why he loves Kevin Durant, cooking and more.
What does it mean to you to win your first ATP Tour title?
I feel happy. It’s not only about winning the title. It’s more about me personally making history, also for the country. It’s huge for the next generation. For me, I need to keep going, keep my body healthy and I’m sure there’s more to come.
It has been a long wait to see this success from Chinese men’s tennis, which could create a lot of pressure, but you seemed so relaxed this week. How have you managed to not allow the pressure to bother you?
I’ve been through a lot of things. I’ve been through injuries, I’ve been through many difficult situations when I was growing up. I think the reason why I’m relaxed now on the tennis court is because I trust myself. If you want to beat me, you have to work hard.
When you were away from professional tennis for about three years because of injuries and the pandemic, did you ever doubt you would reach a moment like this? How does it feel to persevere?
Of course there were a lot of doubts because I did surgery and the rehab wasn’t going well. It took longer than it should [have], but it turned out I’m here. I’d be [lying] if I said 100 per cent I’m going to be here today. But the process is always the most important thing.
I trust myself and I work hard for it. In the gym, on the tennis court, off the court, I always think about tennis. The way I look at tennis, now it’s more relaxing, more enjoyable than before.
You first started playing tennis by coincidence when the badminton net was too high for you. Have you ever thought about what you might be doing today if there wasn’t a tennis court near the badminton court that day? If not, what do you think you would be?
I don’t know! I’m happy with what I am now. But I have this confidence [that] if I chose badminton or sports or just being a student, I would do good things because I trust in myself. When I do things, I’m very focused and if I want to do good, normally I would say 70 or 80 per cent is going to turn out good.
Who are some of your key team members and how have they helped you get to this point?
Of course my tennis coach now Gerardo [Azcurra], he’s been helping me. We see each other’s faces every day! Through IMG [we connected]. He gives me a lot of positive tips and working with him is a very happy thing. Also David the physio here, he keeps my body healthy. It’s just my first week working with him, and good for him!
Also back in China I have my support team, especially Team China and the association, they give us the best conditions to play, the chances to travel around the world and support us.
Also my family. I haven’t seen my family in more than a year. Back in China because of the pandemic and the Covid situation, I’m not allowed to go back home like every day so I can see my parents or my grandparents maybe like twice a week or twice in two weeks. I’m sure they’re still up now. They watch all my matches, especially my mom and grandpa. They take notes! I couldn’t do any of this without their support, especially my family’s.
How did Kevin Durant become your favourite athlete and what do you like most about him?
When I first watched the NBA, I think that was the 2011-2012 season. That’s when Westbrook, Harden and Durant played on the Thunder and they made the finals that year and lost to LeBron [James]… That is my first memory of NBA basketball.
I bet everybody in China knows basketball by Yao Ming. He’s the Chinese giant, he’s a legend. I had some sponsor stuff with him once and we took a picture. I think he’s even taller than John [Isner]. It’s a lot of pressure when you’re standing right next to him.
Back to Durant, I think he has this thing. He’s very cool on court. He doesn’t show much emotion and he’s not a really outgoing guy on court and I want to be like him. I want to be a cool guy on court. There’s not much talking, there’s not much bulls%^!. You just do the job your own way. I think that’s very cool.
What are some of your other favourite hobbies off the court?
I play video games a lot and I love music. But I don’t really listen to Western [music]. I am getting better with it.
What is something fans might not know about you?
I can cook! Is that a thing? I’m pretty into cooking TV shows, which I watch every day. I love cooking different food and I think this also gives me inner peace when I’m alone in the house or after practice. Even if you’re tired, you still cut the food, you cook and you wash. That makes me more comfortable. I don’t know if it tastes good because sometimes it can be terrible, but you just enjoy the process.
How will you celebrate this milestone moment in your career?
Maybe have some beer! I’m not really a celebratory person. Maybe playing some video games will do.