Chinese men’s tennis continues to rise. Less than four months after Zhang Zhizhen made history as the first Chinese man to crack the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Wu Yibing on Monday became the second to achieve the feat.
After reaching the final of the ATP Challenger Tour event in Cleveland, Wu ascended to a career-high World No. 97.
“That’s [a] goal I’ve wanted to achieve since I’m a kid,” Wu told ATPTour.com of breaking into the Top 100. “Everything became true and of course I feel good. It’s not the end. It’s just the beginning for me, I think.”
As recently as April last year, Wu was tied for World No. 1869 following a series of injuries. But he has enjoyed a meteoric rise since, winning three ATP Challenger events in less than a two-month span last year before qualifying for the US Open and reaching the third round.
“Since now I have a better ranking I will start playing more on the ATP Tour than Challengers,” Wu said. “Hopefully I can achieve the Top 30 this year.”
While it will take more success for Wu to reach that goal, he has an opportunity to move closer in the coming months. From now until the start of June, Wu has just 40 Pepperstone ATP Ranking points to defend. He is competing this week in the Dallas Open, an ATP 250 event.
“I think I have good potential,” Wu said. “I don’t have many points to defend from now until Wimbledon, so that’s a pretty good block for me to gain ranking.”
It has been quite the journey for Wu since he became the world’s No. 1 junior as a 17-year-old in 2017. But he has stayed the course and his latest achievement is just another reward for doing so.
“I think I’m happy with the way I’ve played and I enjoyed it more since I was hurt for two or three years. Because of Covid I couldn’t travel that much,” Wu said. “I still kept the passion for tennis and tried to enjoy playing. I also have a good team around me to keep myself concentrated on tennis.”
Wu is also close friends with Zhang, whom he calls ‘Big Jerry’ and Shang Juncheng, an 18-year-old Chinese player he calls ‘Little Jerry’ (both men use Jerry as their English name, and Zhang is taller). Shang is at a career-high World No. 165 and can soon become the third man from their country to break into the Top 100.
Zhang, who is at a career-high World No. 91, sent Wu his congratulations by text message on Monday morning.
“I feel like we’ve always been together. Even though we have some different schedules because Big Jerry, he always plays in Europe. Me and Little Jerry, we’re here in the States. We’re always following each other and we look up to each other,” Wu said. “It’s a very nice competition between the three of us and hopefully let’s make some more history for Chinese men’s tennis.”