Wu Yibing becomes first Chinese man to reach the US Open third round since 1881
LONDON (AP) — Two years after turning pro, the 33-year-old Chinese tennis star was set to compete at the US Open for the first time Wednesday and was looking relaxed as he climbed the steps of the Royal Box. It was an odd feeling, as he and the Chinese fans who had travelled to London in anticipation of his appearance in the third round wore similar outfits: dark blue track suits over sports coats and high-top sneakers.
“I feel very good,” he said, beaming at the journalists gathered in the packed grandstands.
Wu was born in Beijing but raised in Shenyang, the second-largest city in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province. He learned to write and play the piano during the summer vacations, when he could spend hours practicing the notes from Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor.
After attending the Shenyang Commerce Academy, he went on to study in Japan, where he earned a tennis coaching license and worked as a private tutor for a Japanese pro. In 1982, he moved to Hong Kong to play for the HKT Leisure Club, which was owned by an American.
While there, he met the British tennis star Martina Navratilova, who invited him to train with her on the hard courts of Wimbledon. He stayed with her for two years in 1988 and 1989, playing a total of 33 tournaments around the world, including the Australian Open and the French Open.
Wu had turned professional in 1990 and won two singles titles, though he was still just 23. In 1993, he was part of the Chinese Davis Cup team at the age of 28, helping them to the Asian Cup title.
At the US Open, his family waited anxiously on the outside of the Royal Box. In their seats on the red carpet, he was wearing the red-and-white jacket and scarf of the Chinese Taipei Olympic gold medalist Wu Tzu-Hsiao, who was wearing a different style of sports coat but a similar color. They had planned to wear matching coats when they met at center court Wednesday.
“This is the first time I’m on the main stage after making it to the top tour,