China Rising: Wu Di Wins Nation’s First Challenger Title
A LOOK BACK
SportMaster Tennis Championships of Maui (Maui, U.S.A.): Asian tennis experienced a landmark moment last week. More than one billion people hail from China, yet on Sunday, Wu Di stood above the rest. The Wuhan native became the nation's first ATP Challenger Tour singles titlist, stunning top seed Kyle Edmund 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and seven minutes in Maui. He saved 11 of 15 break points faced and overcame strong winds that penetrated the Royal Lahaina Resort throughout the match, creating tough conditions.
“Today I gave 100 per cent energy,” Wu told broadcaster Mike Cation following the match. “Chinese players have never won a Challenger. I did well on the court to fight and it was amazing. For sure [I feel the pressure in China]. The Chinese fans follow you and want you to win. I wanted to become the first man to win a title. I'm really happy.”
The 24 year old will return to the Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings with his maiden crown. He enjoyed a fruitful off-season entering 2016 that included a training block with Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic and Andreas Seppi in Monte-Carlo, followed by a successful qualifying campaign at the Australian Open. Wu had dropped two previous Challenger title matches, in Beijing 2012 and in a third set tie-break in Shanghai 2015.
"We made the appointment with Novak during the Shanghai Rolex Masters. It's extremely difficult to get a point from Novak when we play together. He is like a wall. I see a big distance to reach his level and I'm not expecting it, but I found myself with the potential to improve and make progress."
“I know he (Edmund) is young, smart and in the Top 100. He has good experience. I was more aggressive with my forehand today, but I hit more double faults (11) because he returns very well. This is why I missed so many. I have to get stronger in my legs. I also have to remember how I played here, be more consistent and play the next like this one.”
World No. 88 Edmund’s defeat ends a streak of eight straight Challenger finals won by British players. It was Wu’s fourth victory over a Top 100 opponent and first in a completed match at the Challenger level.
Claro Open Bucaramanga (Bucaramanga, Colombia): Gerald Melzer and Paolo Lorenzi were drawn to face each other in Bucaramanga in the 2015 second round and once again in the 2016 final. Different year, same result. The 25-year-old Melzer needed just 75 minutes to clinch the title 6-3, 6-1, fighting off four of five break points faced. It was the Austrian’s second crown of the year, following a season-opening victory in Mendoza, Argentina, and third overall. He owns a 12-2 record to open the season. Lorenzi, meanwhile, was appearing in his 31st ATP Challenger Tour final, which is second-most all-time behind Yen Hsun Lu’s 36 title matches.
What The Players Said
Melzer: “You don't win titles every day. It was difficult in the first part of the tournament but little-by-little I found my rhythm. I am very happy to be the champion.”
They say everything is bigger in Texas. So is the tennis. The RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas welcomes the ATP Challenger Tour for an 18th time, with defending champion Tim Smyczek seeded fourth. An American has won the title in each of the past 10 editions. A pair of blockbuster first-round match-ups are in the cards, with top seed Sam Groth set to face 18-year-old Frances Tiafoe and Russian teen Andrey Rublev squaring off against Daniel Evans. Maui runner-up Kyle Edmund is seeded second.
In Australia, the second edition of the Launceston International is staged, with home hope Jordan Thompson the highest-ranked player in the field at World No. 143 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Top seed James Duckworth withdrew with an elbow injury sustained in Maui.
ATP CHALLENGER TOUR ON TWITTER: New in 2016, the ATP Challenger Tour has launched a dedicated Twitter account for the latest news and information about players and events. Follow @ATPChallengerTour at twitter.com/ATPChallengerTour.