Ruud out of US Open; Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Osaka advance

(Update 1: changes head, adds Stefanos Tsitsipas’ 2nd round match)

New York, Sep 1 (EFE).- Casper Ruud has enjoyed a steady climb up the men’s tennis rankings in 2021, but the talented Norwegian was upset Wednesday in the second round of the US Open by unheralded Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

With the defeat, the 22-year-old Norwegian became the highest-ranked player to be bounced out of the year’s final Grand Slam event in either the men’s or women’s singles draws.

Ruud began the year at No. 27 and last month achieved a career-high ranking of No. 11, but in Wednesday’s match he was thoroughly outplayed by an opponent who came through the qualifying phase and showed a much higher level of comfort with the hard courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the New York City borough of Queens.

The 117th-ranked Van de Zandschulp, who had rallied to win all three of his qualifying matches and came from two sets down to win his opening main-draw match against Spain Carlos Taberner, was the comeback kid once again against Ruud.

The 25-year-old Dutchman was the aggressor for the majority of the match and racked up 50 winners to just 27 for his opponent. He also was much more effective when approaching the net, winning 76 percent of those points (22 of 29) compared to Ruud’s 50 percent (15 of 30).

Although the Norwegian is already regarded as one the game’s premier clay-court players, he clearly still has a ways to go to put his name among the game’s elite on the faster surfaces.

“It’s been a challenge here since day one in practice,” Ruud admitted afterward, referring to Flushing Meadows’ hard courts.

Two other top-16 seeds also were eliminated from the men’s singles draw on Wednesday, with Chile’s Cristian Garin, the No. 16 seed, losing 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-4 to Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen and Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov retiring with an injury while trailing 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4), 4-0 against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin.

Besides those three upsets, the favored players mostly cruised to easy wins in second-round action on Wednesday.

Russian No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev routed Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-1, 6-2, fifth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev took charge after a tight first two sets to defeat Spain’s Pedro Martinez 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-1 and 12th-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime topped Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-2.

Meanwhile, Greek world no. 3 Stafanos Tsitsipas had to work hard for his 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-0 win against veteran Frenchman Adrian Mannarino but in the end he imposed his class.

He will face 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the third round on Friday.

“I think he is someone that has a good game for all surfaces,” Tsitsipas said about Alcaraz. “I want to play the best of my game against him. I see him as a potential contender in the future for Grand Slam titles and other big events.”

The 23-year-old Greek tennis player needed two hours and 41 minutes to beat Mannarino, hitting 53 winners against 32 unforced errors compared to Mannarino’s 26 winners to 38 errors. The Frenchman has won two of the three matches that the two have played.

In women’s singles, second-seeded Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka suffered an injury scare in the first set when she slipped and fell and landed hard on her right hand, but she recovered to ease past Slovakia’s Tamara Zidansek 6-3, 6-1,

Fifth-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina defeated Spain’s Rebeka Masarova 6-2, 7-5; eighth-seeded Czech Barbora Krejcikova, the reigning French Open champion, brushed aside American Christina McHale 6-3, 6-1; and ninth-seeded Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza routed Germany’s Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-2.

Third-seeded Japanese star Naomi Osaka, the defending US Open champion, advanced by walkover when her opponent, Serbia’s Olga Danilovic, retired due to a non-Covid-related viral illness. EFE


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