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Rune out of U.S. Open, Thiem and Shelton advance on Day 1

Holger Rune made himself the story of the U.S. Open before it even started, as he was put on Court 5 for his first-round match against Roberto Carballes Baena and wasn’t happy about it. Despite being ranked fourth, Rune was relegated to at best the fifth-biggest court at Flushing Meadows and at worst the eighth-biggest. It’s arguably less prestigious than 7, 11, 12 while obviously ranking behind Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Grandstand, and 17.

After getting his assignment, the Dane posted a map of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Twitter to direct fans to Court 5.

There will be no maps required for his fans moving forward–at least not at this summer in New York. Rune became the story of Day 1, too, as he lost to Carballes Baena 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Afterward, the No. 4 seed consistently took the high road when asked multiple times by reporters during press conference about the scheduling issue.

“It’s not difficult (to play on Court 5),” but it’s different,” Rune said. “You’re more close to all the people. It’s a nice atmosphere. So, I mean, it’s no problem with the court. I just didn’t expect to play on that court. (I’m) not going to blame the court on the loss. He played very, very solid. Credit to him.

“I just did [made the post] kind of for fun. I mean, of course I was a bit not happy when I saw the schedule, but I saw the schedule Friday so I had time to recover from it. It’s not like I can’t play tennis if I play not on center court. I (have) played probably more matches on outside courts in my life than big courts, so (it’s) all good.”

It could be really good for everyone else in Rune’s quarter of the draw, which also includes an out-of-form Casper Ruud. Alexander Bublik and Sebastian Korda also exited, so among the remaining players looking to capitalize are 2022 semifinalist Frances Tiafoe, 2023 Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul, 2020 U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem, and Aussie Open quarterfinalist Ben Shelton.

Thiem and Shelton will square off in round two, with the winner to meet either Carballes Baena or Aslan Karatsev. Monday saw Thiem upset Bublik in straight sets, while Shelton defeated Pedro Cachin in four.

“It was a very good match basically from the first moment on,” Thiem said after routing Bublik 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. “It’s a pretty special victory, because it’s the first since two and a half years at Grand Slams. I think, I don’t know, (it’s been) six or seven Grand Slams without a match win. So it’s great–especially here at the U.S. Open with all the past and all the memories I have here.”

Thiem will try to create more memories in a blockbuster battle with Shelton–one that most definitely won’t be on Court 5.

“I played him on clay, but that was just his first clay court tournament ever,” Thiem said of the rising American star. “On hard, I guess it’s a completely different game. He played quarters in the Australian Open. He (has) had some great results on hard court. In general, I’m looking forward a lot to that match. He’s a great guy. He’s unbelievable athlete. I really love to watch him.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.