The buzz started in Chinese tennis circles in early November when China’s first junior male player cracked the ITF World Top 10 and then registered to compete in China’s national professional championship, China Tennis Grand Prix Cup. With Chinese fans having waited forever for a Chinese male player to emerge on the international tennis scene in similar fashion to China’s “Golden Ladies” Lin Na, Zheng Jie, Yan Zi, Sun Tian Tian & Peng Shuai, how would this 17 year old boy from Hangzhou (Zheijiang), Wu Yi Bing hold up against a professional field that included the two highest internationally ranked men in Chinese history, Wu Di & Zhang Ze.
From the outset of the “GPC” Challenge Round Wu Yi Bing sent one opponent after another to an early shower showcasing not only tremendous tennis talent but also a confident composure highly unusual for such a young player. Wu then took the noise to a new level when he disposed of two-time “GPC” champion Wu Di in the Championship Round setting up a finals battle with Zhang Ze, three-time “GPC” champion and China’s ATP highest ranked player in history.
Performing before a boisterous crowd and a Guangdong TV live audience, the young junior burst out of the gates displaying an all-round game of pinpoint serves and ground strokes from the baseline to the net in stunning the former champion 6-2 in the first set. Frankly, Zhang never recovered as Wu continued his all-out assault finishing his two-set victory 6-1 in capturing what will surely be the first of many professional titles not only at the Grand Prix but also worldwide.
The women finals featured a terrific matchup of WTA Top 100 players as well as 2014 “GPC” champion Wang Qiang squared off against two-time “GPC” singles champion Duan Ying Ying. Unfortunately Duan was betrayed by a bad tooth and mightily struggled throughout the match but could not bring her best as Wang took a two-set win 6-4 & 6-2 to capture her second “GPC” title.
Doubles play brought an array of former Grand Prix champions to compete for another title. On the men side, Zhang Ze, a four-time “GPC” doubles champion, teamed up with Gong Maoxin, the winningest champion in “GPC” history with five doubles titles & two singles titles, to battle three-time “GPC” doubles champion Li Zhe and Gao Xin. Defending champions Zhang & Gong, who had teamed up to win the 2011-2012-2015 crowns, proved too strong in fighting off a late challenge to add to their trophy cases with a 6-4 & 7-6(5) triumph.
In the women doubles division, 2013 champions Duan Ying Ying & Xu Yifan, WTA World #20 doubles player, reunited in fine fashion to topple the young team of Tian Ran & Tang Haochen in straight sets 6-3 & 6-4.
No doubt this chapter of the China Tennis Grand Prix Cup was a fantastic way to end the 2016 season on Sunday featuring an unmatched galaxy of Chinese stars and the emergence of a bright new hope that could take Chinese men tennis to places it has never been before.