The legend of J.J. Wolf continues to grow at the 2022 US Open, but Nick Kyrgios awaits in third round

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J.J. Wolf US Open
J.J. Wolf during his first round match at the US Open (photo courtesy of the writer)

While Serena Williams is dominating headlines and media coverage at the 2022 US Open, American qualifier J.J. Wolf is making a name for himself in the men’s draw. 

After pulling off a thrilling upset against 16th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round, Wolf continued his march through the draw with a 4-6, 7-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory over 71st-ranked Chilean Alejandro Tabilo in the second round. 

The power in J.J. Wolf’s game was evident again on Wednesday as the 23-year-old hit 20 aces, which brings his total to 34, the 5th-most of any player through the tournament’s first three days. Wolf also has 95 winners in his first two matches to 77 unforced errors, so you can immediately get a sense of his aggressive style of play. 

However, that has worked for him so far in this tournament, taking chances and putting pressure on his opponents. He capitalized on seven of 18 break points on Wednesday, which made him incredibly tough to beat since he also won 76% of his first serve points.

He’s playing with a confidence that is going to make him very tough to beat. Except that his opponent in the third round knows all about confidence and aggressively erratic styles of play. J.J. Wolf has now advanced to take on Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios in the third round on Friday, who’s a big fan of Wolf’s game.

“He’s got a massive game,” said Kyrgios after his victory on Wednesday. “I love the way he plays tennis. I love the fact that he has a big serve, tries to take it to the opposition. Serves big and plays big.”

Kyrgios clearly also loves to serve big since he’s 2nd in the tournament with 43 aces through two matches and has hit an impressive 107 winners to just 74 unforced errors. He, like J.J. Wolf, has dropped just one set so far in the tournament; however, he also survived a challenge in round two from 50th-ranked Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi. 

Kyrgios needed a tiebreaker to take the first set and then Bonzi won the third set 6-4 to extend the match before Kyrgios was able to finish him off 6-4 in the fourth set. 

Since the Kyrgrios has a big personality and a history of success, he’s been on the main stadium court in each of his first two-round matches. That likely means that round three will be J.J. Wolf’s first stadium match in the 2022 US Open, and a chance to prove himself on a bigger stage, literally. 

That’s quite a rise for the Cincinnati native, who did not automatically qualify for the US Open because he was ranked 104th as of the entry cut-off for the US Open. As a result, Wolf had to earn a spot in the US Open as a wild card by accumulating enough points during the summer hard court circuit

It was a display of perseverance that’s become common for a player who missed eight months last year after having two separate double hernia surgeries. “It was originally only supposed to be a four-month recovery, and then I actually got into a car accident the day of my surgery. When I was supposed to start playing again, I was like, ‘Is it supposed to be hurting this badly?’ and I went and got it checked out and they said the first surgery wasn’t done right, so I had to have somebody go back into the same area and completely re-do it.”

Now that J.J. Wolf is healthy and able to play his first full season on the ATP Tour, we could be seeing a new level of performance. He’ll hope that can propel him beyond what he did here in 2020 where the then-21-year-old was able to advance to the third round before falling to current world number one Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.

“I’m expecting an incredibly hard match,” said Kyrgios. “I know it’s not going to be easy at all. I’m going into that probably the favorite, but I’m not going to take him lightly at all. I know he’s beaten some great players. Yeah, I’m excited.”

It’ll be an exciting day for J.J. Wolf as well with another chance to prove himself against a top player in the world. This year might just be the year he takes advantage. 

For more coverage of the 2022 US Open, like this J.J. Wolf story, visit amNY Sports

Nick Kyrgios will face J.J. Wolf in the third round
Nick Kyrgios, of Australia, serves to Benjamin Bonzi, of France, during the second round of the US Open tennis championships, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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