Wu Yibing became the first Chinese mainland player to lift an ATP Tour trophy after winning the Dallas Open title on February 12. The 23-year-old tennis player outclassed his 37-year-old American opponent John Isner 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 7-6(12).
Before him, no Chinese male tennis player had ever reached the singles final of the ATP. The best record in history can be traced back to 1995, when Pan Bing was in the semi-finals of the Seoul Open in South Korea.
With the end of the competition, Wu climbed 39 places to 58th in the ATP rankings. No Chinese man has ever reached such rankings for singles players in the professional era.
Chinese brands may be seeing the generation of another Eileen Gu, a freestyle skier, and Su Yiming, a snowboarder. As it seems now, Wu Yibing’s commercial value is soaring.
Although young Wu Yibing still has room for improvement in terms of his current career achievements, he is already showing some promise in his business dealings. While Wu won the championship, Adidas, who had just signed an agreement with him, quickly sent congratulations on Weibo, and many netizens quickly praised the brand’s judgment.
Many brands have long targeted Wu Yibing. As early as June 2018, Wu was recruited by IMG, one of the largest sports brokerage companies in the world, to take charge of its global marketing and management. IMG is also the brokerage company for China’s former professional tennis player Li Na.
Wu won the boys’ singles title at the 2017 US Open. That year, Rado, a high range brand of the Swiss watch conglomerate Swatch Group, announced that Wu would join the brand’s YoungStar program as its latest member.
High-level brand attention means that tennis players who play well often earn a lot of money. In 2014, Li Na won the women’s singles final at the Australian Open for the first time. In the sports income list released by Forbes that year, she rose to 41st with an income of $23.6 million, of which about $5.6 million were competition prizes. Based on this calculation, about $18 million came from commercial endorsements.
Chinese brands have been competing to sponsor tennis events. As early as 2005, HongXing Erke Group, a sportswear brand, which just been listed in Singapore, sponsored Guangzhou Women’s Tennis Open. However, with the decline in performance, after 2017, the brand’s tennis sponsorships have declined.
Among the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open, the Australian Open has the most cooperation with Chinese enterprises. Luzhou Laojiao, a Chinese liquor maker, and DeRucci, a mattress company, are among the current official sponsors of the Australian Open, with Luzhou Laojiao as one of the four high-level partners of the Australian Open. In addition, OPPO is Wimbledon’s only Asian partner and its only mobile phone partner in the world.