Auger-Aliassime, second top-10 to be eliminated
In the absence of Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic, eight members of the world top-10 started this US Open. After just three days of competition, this figure has been reduced to just six of the top ten in the ranking alive in New York. The first to fall was Stefanos Tsitsipas and, last night, Felix Auger-Aliassime, eighth in the world and sixth seed, was the second favorite to say goodbye to the last Grand Slam of the year. The 22-year-old Canadian, trained by a Toni Nadal who did not witness his defeat, was clearly outclassed by British Jack Draper in three sets (6-4, 6-4 and 6-4 in 2h29).
If last year Auger-Aliassime said goodbye to New York with a good taste in his mouth after reaching the first Grand Slam semi-finals of his careerthis time the Canadian leaves the Big Apple with a totally different feeling. Despite starting 2022 winning the first title of his career in Rotterdam (He had previously lost eight finals in which he did not win a single set)Felix’s season has not lived up to the expectations generated around one of the main promises of tennis in recent years. The quarterfinals in Australia are his best Grand Slam result this yearsince at Wimbledon he was eliminated at the first change, while at Roland Garros he fell in the fourth round after putting Nadal on the ropes.
The person in charge of dealing a new setback to the Canadian has been another tennis player who promises a lot for the future, Jack Draper, winner this year of four Challenger titles. The Londoner, despite being only 20 years old, is 53rd in the world (last year he was 259th and with this victory he provisionally rises to 46th place) and in less than a month he has killed two top-10s, since he eliminated Tsitsipas in Montreal. In fact, five of his last six wins have come against current or former members of the top-10 (Tsitsipas and Monfils in Montreal, Thiem and Fognini in Winston-Salem and Auger-Aliassime at the US Open). After defeating Ruusuvuori in the first round and his victory last night against Auger-Aliassime, in which he showed brave and aggressive tennis, Draper reaches the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career. Until this US Open, the Englishman had only played two editions of Wimbledon, and his first experience in a major outside his country is going well for him. His next rival on this sweet road will be the Russian Karen Khachanov, who yesterday beat the Portuguese Monteiro in four heats.
Murray returns to US Open third round six years later
So, he was going through his best season ever. At 29 years old, she gave more meaning than ever to that of the Big four. 78 wins, 24 of them in a row, nine titles, his second Wimbledon and number one in the world, the first time for a British player on the world tennis throne. Andy Murray, in 2016, looked the three tennis gods in the eye. Now, six years later, life is very different. Injuries, hip operations (2018 and 2019) and even a threat of withdrawal. An ordeal that, this season, sees some light. He has cherished his first ATP title since 2019, in Antwerp, and, after falling below the top-200 ranking, has returned to the top fifty for the first time since 2018 (he is now 51st). Today, for the first time since 2016, he has certified his presence in the third round of the US Open after beating the American Emilio Nava, 20, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 and 6-0, in three hours.
“Physically, this is the best I’ve felt in recent years. My movement is by far the best I’ve had in a long time. That has always been a very important part of my game and nowadays, especially with these guys who now hit very hard, you have to defend well”, assured the Briton, champion in 2012, after beating Nava, invited to the Grand Slam, but with enough nerve and tenacity to take the first set from Murraywho will face Matteo Berrettini (14th), winner against Hugo Grenier (119th) by 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 and 7-6 in 3:25. After a placid debut, resolved in three sets against a dangerous rival like the Argentine Francisco Cerúndolo (27th), he had to add more epic to a story full of it.
The local promise, who saw that first set in danger after going 3-5, recovered with a final break despite Murray’s comeback attempt, which reached 5-5. From there, the young American, who had just played five sets for the first time in his career, against John Millman, began to falter. “When you play five sets for the first time, it’s not always easy to recover and I think his level dropped a little bit in the third and fourth set. He is a young player and he is going to have a very bright future”, Andy dedicated to him, adding his 48th (11 losses) victory in Flushing Meadows. He came to it very confidently on serve (79% of points won with firsts), putting his experience to good use (22 winners and 26 unforced errors for 33 and 56) and demonstrating that long-awaited mobility (14/16 points gained in uploads to the network). “I’m getting closer to the level I want to be and I hope to go far here,” he wished. Like almost any lover of this sport.
Ruud overcomes the scare and Kyrgios, leaves a set and Medveved sweeps
The rest of the men’s day was marked by the meetings of other favorites to everything. One of them is Casper Ruud, who is one of the four players with New York’s number one exit options. The Norwegian overcame the initial scare to beat the Dutchman Tim Van Rijthoven, number 117 in the world and who was a complete unknown until this summer, when he stormed the grass tour to win in Den Bosch. Van Rijthoven took the first set and made Ruud tremblebut the Norwegian’s reaction came to turn the game around and scoring the victory by 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4 and 6-4 in almost three hours of meeting. Ruud, finalist this year at Roland Garros, is already in the third round of the US Open, where he will face local Tommy Paul, who eliminated his compatriot Sebastian Korda last night 6-0, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 and 6-4 in a great comeback.
He also dropped a set on his way to the third round, Nick Kyrgios. The Australian, who has been dazzling since reaching the final of the last US Open, It was not easy for him against a great Benjamin Bonzi, 50 in the world. The Frenchman put a Kyrgios against the ropes at various times, who was not successful at the rest until the fourth round. Finally, the scoreboard reflected a 7-6(3), 6-4, 4-6 and 6-4 favorable to the Australian. A very serious game from Kyrgios, who focused on what was happening on the court and was able to overcome the problems that arose, especially that third set in which Bonzi surprised. The 23rd seed will play in the third round against the American JJ Wolf, number 87 in the world and Tabilo’s executioner, whom he defeated 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 and 6-3.
Daniil Medvedev did not have too many problems, apart from overcoming a somewhat tighter second set than the rest, to win 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 in 2h11 against Arthur Rinderknech. The Russian dispatched a very serious match against the 27-year-old Frenchman and 58th in the world, who seems to be a carbon copy of his physical appearance, but with less quality and consistency. In fact, he made 50 unforced errors to the Muscovite’s 20, who will meet the Chinese Yibing Wu, who got rid of the Portuguese Borges.
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