NEW YORK - It was business as usual at the US Open with Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek marching confidently into the third round but the day ended with a late run of shockers that saw Casper Ruud and Petra Kvitova dumped out of the tournament.
There were plenty of cheers rolling across the sprawling Billie Jean King National Tennis Center all day with Coco Gauff, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe moving on, as hopes of a homegrown winner continued to build. But while results followed the form book for much of the day at the year’s final Grand Slam, shocks sprung up as the sun went down.
The biggest surprise was delivered by Zhang Zhizhen, who stunned last year’s runner-up and world number five Ruud 6-4 5-7 6-2 0-6 6-2 to become the first Chinese man to beat a top-five player since the introduction of the ATP rankings in 1973. At almost the same time Caroline Wozniacki was claiming the biggest win of her comeback - a 7-5 7-6(5) victory over 11th seed Kvitova.
Earlier, Swiss young gun Dominic Stricker delivered a shock by grinding out a 7-5 6-7(2) 6-7(5) 7-6(6) 6-3 win over Greek seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas for his first top-10 win. Djokovic was prevented from playing in last year’s U.S. Open due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19 but has looked right at home on Arthur Ashe Stadium court.
A nine-times finalist at Flushing Meadows brushing aside Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-4 6-1 6-1. Djokovic remains on course for a fourth US Open title that would pull him level with Margaret Court’s record haul of 24 Grand Slams. Swiatek has also impressed but the defending champion was made to work for a 6-3 6-4 win over Australian spark plug Daria Saville, who is fighting her way back to fitness from injury that has seen her ranking tumble to number 322. Wozniacki was back on the stage she has graced so many times against a familiar foe in front of an adoring crowd under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights.
Sixth seed Gauff warmed up the home crowd early when the teenager beat Mirra Andreeva 6-3 6-3, before handing the baton to the US men. It has been 20 years and 78 Grand Slams since Andy Roddick won the 2003 US Open and hopes of an American man ending that drought have fallen largely on the shoulders of Tiafoe and Fritz.
Tiafoe did not shrink under the evening spotlight, the 10th seed downing Austrian Sebastian Ofner 6-3 6-1 6-4, before ninth seeded Fritz cruised past Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas 6-1 6-2 6-2. They were joined in the next round by Tommy Paul but only after the 14th seed battled back from two sets down to get past Russian Roman Safiullin 3-6 2-6 6-2 6-4 6-3.