Outside of Novak Djokovic, it was already a wide-open bottom half of the U.S. Open men’s singles draw.
And then Wednesday happened.
Both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud exited the tournament in round two, sending their respective sections of the bracket into further chaos. Tsitsipas lost to Dominic Stricker 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-7(5), 7-6(6), 6-3 before Ruud also went down in five sets in the Grandstand, succumbing to Zhizhen Zhang 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 0-6, 6-2.
Although Tsitsipas has never been at his best at the U.S. Open, it was an especially surprising result for him considering that he served for the match at 5-3 in the fourth set. But Stricker recovered from the brink of defeat to take the fourth in a tiebreaker and then seized control with an early break in the fifth. The 21-year-old Swiss served out the biggest win of his career from 0-30 down at 5-3.
“(It was a) great performance,” Stricker assured. “I felt good from the first point on. (It) was just great to be out there with so many people supporting me (and) supporting him. So it was just, for me, a great day. I enjoyed it from the first moment on. Yeah, actually (I’m) a bit speechless (at) what happened today.”
It was also the biggest day of Zhang’s career. Ruud is ranked No. 5 in the world and is a three-time Grand Slam finalist–including at the U.S. Open in 2022. However, the Norwegian was overpowered by Zhang in what was an absolute roller-coaster ride over the course of three hours and 19 minutes.
Just how wild of a situation is it in the bottom half of the draw now? Well, other than Djokovic the highest remaining seed is No. 10 Frances Tiafoe. There are a whopping four all-unseeded showdowns in the third round, including Stricker vs. Benjamin Bonzi and Zhang vs. Rinky Hijikata. Also on Friday’s schedule is Ben Shelton vs. Aslan Karatsev and Jiri Vesely vs. Borna Gojo.
Things are already crazy in New York, and they may get crazier.
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