Denis Shapovalov and Alex de Minaur are the leading figures among the players born in 1999 at the moment but they may get a company in the Top 50 in 2019, with the most promising Chinese youngster Yibing Wu making his comeback after injuries to crack the Top 300 for the first time (he was 301st in November last year). Yibing had a chance to work in Madrid together with Antonio Torres and Garcia Sanchez Nahun and he had a breakthrough season last year when he won the first Futures and Challenger titles, also with a chance to play on the ATP level in Chengdu and Shanghai.
Wu ended the season just outside the Top 300 at the age of 18 and he was hoping for more good results in 2018, although his body failed to follow the plans of the youngster! After competing in Auckland and Rennes in January, Yibing was forced to skip all the action in February and March in order to recover and continue the season on a high note. After two Challengers at home in China in April, Wu was sidelined again until July when he returned to Futures level, reaching the final in Shenzhen.
Following the quarter-final run at Chengdu Challenger, Yibing reached another one in Zhangjiagang and he will try to go even further this week in Shanghai. In the meanwhile, Yibing signed a contract with IMG and Maria Sharapova's former coach Sven Groeneveld started to work with him in order to excel his game and fitness to a higher level.
Wu is now fully motivated to make the best possible run by the end of the season and to stay injury free, with the best possible team around him that works on his nutrition and physical shape. In addition, Yibing will spend the off season at Florida where he will train at the finest facilities and prepare himself for some big goals in the next year.
In the opening round of Shanghai Challenger, Wu toppled the 5th seed Go Soeda 6-4 6-2 in an hour and 13 minutes, losing just 16 points in nine service games and stealing rival's serve four times from 10 opportunities he created.
The Chinese served at 76% and he had the advantage with his initial shot and from the baseline, controlling the pace and moving into the second round in no time at all. A forehand down the line winner grabbed an early break for Wu at the start of the match and he had another chance in game three, denied by a solid attack from Soeda.
Despite a 40-15 lead in the sixth game, Wu got broken after a long rally and a backhand error, having to start all over again. Yibing broke back in the very next game and he closed the opener with four winners in game 10 for a 6-4.
Another forehand down the line pushed him 2-1 up in set number two and four winners in the following game sent the Chinese further in front before he sealed the deal with another break with a backhand down the line winner in game five.
Yibing saved a break point with a service winner in game six and he created two match points on the return in the next game, denied by two unreturned serves from Soeda who had a chance to extend the match after creating a break point in the eighth game.
Yibing saved it with a solid backhand and he converted his fifth match point to secure the win and march towards the second round. ALSO READ: Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka accept Tokyo wild cards