When Jimmy Wang reached the finals of the US Open junior tennis tournament in 2001 at the age of 16, expectations were high for a player considered to be one of the finest tennis talents to emerge from Taiwan in years. Those hopes have since faded, obliterated by a series of injuries that kept Wang off the court for nearly two years starting in mid-2008, but after a tenacious comeback, he has finally won again in the main draw of a tournament at Flushing Meadows.
Wang upset world No. 75 Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (8/10), 6-1, 6-4 on Tuesday to win his first-ever match in the US Open men’s singles.
“Facing the giant’s barrage of powerful aces, I was determined to take advantage of the chances I had and finally won in four sets,” Wang said on his Facebook page after defeating the 2.08m-tall Karlovic, who is 30cm taller than the Taiwanese player.
“I’m so happy. Thank you all for supporting me all these years,” he added.
The 182nd-ranked Wang, who won three qualifying matches last week to make it into the main draw, withstood 32 aces by the Croatian to prevail. The 27-year-old’s fourth career victory in a Grand Slam match set him up for a second-round encounter with 16th-seeded Gilles Simon of France.
The Saudi-Arabia-born Wang, whose career record in eight Grand Slam events before the US Open was 3-8, has never reached the third round of a Grand Slam tournament. The only other time Wang had made it into the main draw of the US Open men’s singles was in 2006.
Also on Tuesday, the only other Taiwanese player in the men’s singles, world No. 64 Lu Yen-hsun, lost his first-round match to the 27th-seeded American Sam Querrey 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. For Lu, it was a disconcerting end to the summer tennis season, after being knocked out in the first round of the men’s singles at both Wimbledon and the Olympic Games.
Lu said after the match that poor serving and his inability to win a few big points cost him the match. He expressed disappointment over the result, especially after having prepared hard for the tournament.
The 29-year-old has decided not to play doubles at Flushing Meadows, instead deciding to return home early to prepare for the fall season in Asia.