By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
One of the biggest upsets in the early phase of the US Open was just witnessed.
After five grueling rounds, Zhang Zhizhen, the world’s no. 67-ranked male tennis player, earned the biggest win of his career so far when he handed world no. 5 and last year’s tournament finalist Casper Ruud a second-round exit in the ongoing US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament.
Zhizhen outdueled Ruud after almost four hours of battle- 6.4, 5.7, 6.2, 0.6, 6.2- last August 31, 2023, to advance to the third round of the US Open.
The 26-year-old Chinese star immediately stunned Ruud after taking care of the opening set in a dominant fashion.
Soon as Zhizhen scored the first break-point of the match midway through the first set, he protected his service possession to cruise to a 1-0 lead and carry the much-needed momentum against the more experienced foe.
Ruud got back in the second set and needed a late offensive rally to mount his comeback, equalizing the tightly contested battle.
Just when the Norwegian ace thought he already figured Zhizhen out when he forced him to several disappointing unforced errors in the crucial stretch, the Chinese stalwart redeemed himself and activated his groundstroke power to negate Ruud’s court mastery.
With Zhizhen’s power forehands connecting to the baseline, Ruud found difficulty in entering the net, one of his main strengths.
It was in the fourth set when many started to doubt Zhizhen’s resiliency, failing to score a single set point while allowing Ruud to gain more confidence heading into the fifth and deciding frame.
Zhizhen then embraced the bright lights in Queens, New York after drawing first blood when he broke Ruud’s service possession.
After the Chinese held a slim two-set lead, the match swung Zhizhen’s way as his shot accuracy and timely selection proved to be too much for the struggling Ruud.
With the big career victory, the Chinese superstar will be setting up a highly-anticipated third-round showdown against Rinky Hijikata of Australia.