In a gripping five-set match, the 67th-ranked Zhizhen Zhang from China defeats 5th seed Casper Ruud with a score of 4-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-0, 2-6, marking Zhang’s historic achievement as the first Chinese male player to conquer a top-five opponent.
World No.5 Casper Ruud crashed out of the US Open after losing his men’s singles second-round match to China’s Zhizhen Zhang on Thursday. Ruud lost to the 67th-ranked Chinese 4-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-0, 2-6 in a five-setter that lasted 3 hours and 19 minutes.
Zhang created history
Zhang created tennis history by becoming the first male from China to beat a top-five player. The 26-year-old landed the first blow by taking the first set 6-4 and although Ruud made a comeback by winning the hard-fought second set 7-5, Zhang did not let go of his lead in the match by taking the third set 6-2.
When Ruud hit back with a 6-0 win in the fourth set, it looked like the man from Norway had got the much-needed momentum to drive home the advantage in the fifth set. As it so often happens in Grand Slams, the higher-ranked player rarely lets go of the momentum towards the latter half of the match despite a poor start.
Toilet break disrupted Ruud’s momentum
But Zhang had other ideas. He came back with his best tennis in the deciding set to give fifth-seeded Ruud no chance. Before the start of the set, Zhang left the court for several minutes to take a toilet break and change clothes in a move that clearly disrupted Ruud’s momentum.
The Norwegian was broken immediately in the first game of the final set, and a frustrated Ruud complained angrily at the chair umpire, accusing him of failing to enforce time limits.
With Ruud unravelling, Zhang rammed home his advantage. He broke again in the fifth game to take a 4-1 lead and then held for a 5-1 lead.
Ruud held serve to close the gap to 5-2, but Zhang would not be denied, producing a superb backhand volley on match point to seal victory.
The serve winners were the difference between the two. Zhang’s win percentage on his first serve was a whopping 75%, six more than Ruud. In the second serve, the Chinese did even better with a win percentage of 57 while Ruud’s was only 47.
Zhang will face Australia’s Rinky Hijikata in the third round on Friday, bidding to reach the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time.
Ruud was the second top-10 player to go down in the second round of US Open 2023. Earlier, it was seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost to the 128th-ranked Swiss qualifier Dominic Strick. The Greek lost 7-5, 6-7 (2/7), 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 in 4 hours and 4 minutes.
Disclaimer: Except for the headline and synopsis, this story has been taken from the HT News Service