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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 05 March 2024

US Open: No. 5 Casper Ruud finds China’s Zhang Zhizhen too hot to handle

Try to just keep playing and keep believing yourself every single time, says Zhang

Our Bureau New York Published 01.09.23, 09:11 AM
Zhang Zhizhen of China hits a return to worldNo. 5 Casper Ruud during their second-round match on Wednesday.

Zhang Zhizhen of China hits a return to worldNo. 5 Casper Ruud during their second-round match on Wednesday. Twitter

Last year’s US Open runner-up Casper Ruud said China’s Zhang Zhizhen would be a threat for years to come after falling to the world No. 67 at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday in a rematch of their French Open meeting.

World No. 5 Ruud had rallied to beat Zhang in four sets on the red clay of Roland Garros in June but the Norwegian found the 26-year-old’s forehand too hot to handle in New York, suffering a 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 0-6, 6-2 second-round loss.

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“He plays really aggressive,” Ruud told reporters. “I think today (Wednesday) he played better forehand than in Roland Garros.”

“Try to just keep playing and keep believing yourself every single time,” Zhang said after the win. “(Even in) tough moments, still try to believe yourself. In the end, you’ll make it.”

Murray falls

Bulgarian 19th seed Grigor Dimitrov booked his place in the third round with a crushing 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 win over former US Open champion Andy Murray. German Alexander Zverev, the 12th seed, overcame compatriot Daniel Altmaier 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-4 6-3.

Jannick Sinner stormed into the third round with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over Lorenzo Sonego.

Sabalenka sails

Aryna Sabalenka, with her sights firmly set on a second grand slam title and the world No. 1 ranking, powered into the third round with a commanding 6-3, 6-2 win over Britain’s Jodie Burrage.

The Australian Open champion converted three of her four break point opportunities and saved the two break points she faced during the 74-minute match.

Sabalenka, who can claim the top ranking for the first time if she advances one round further than Iga Swiatek in New York, used a steady stream of power from the backhand and forehand sides to overwhelm world No. 96 Burrage.

Up next for Sabalenka will be a clash against Frenchwoman Clara Burel, a 6-4 6-2 winner over Czech 25th seed Karolina Pliskova.

Kvitova ousted

Caroline Wozniacki claimed the biggest win of her comeback and a spot in the third round as the Dane’s grand slam adventure continued with a 7-5, 7-6(5) upset of 11th seed Petra Kvitova.

Having retired in 2020 to raise a family and playing in just her third event since returning to action Wozniacki turned back the clock to come out on top in the battle of 33-year-old grand slam champions.

No trouble for Novak

Novak Djokovic overcame some minor early issues to cruise past Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 in the second round, as he continues his hunt for a 24th grand slam title.

More accustomed to the bright lights of the New York night session, the Serbian star instead absorbed the muggy midday August heat, firing off 35 winners to set up a meeting with compatriot Laslo Djere in the third round.

Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe kept alive the hopes of a homegrown winner.

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.

Another American Ben Shelton also made it to the third round when Dominic Thiem retired with an undisclosed illness.

Bopanna advances

India’s Rohan Bopanna and his Australian men’s doubles partner Matthew Ebden advanced to the second round with a straight-set win over Christopher O’Connell and Aleksandar Vukic here.

Bopanna and Ebden, who are seeded sixth, brushed aside the Australian duo 6-4, 6-2 in less than an hour.

However, India’s Saketh Myneni and his Russian partner Aslan Karatsev lost their first-round match 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 2-6 to Marc-Andrea Huesler of Switzerland and Serbia’s Laslo Djere.

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