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Tsitsipas, Ruud crash out of U.S. Open in second round

You could argue that the bottom half of the U.S. Open men’s singles draw was already in shambles before the tournament even started.

If that was already the case when the draw ceremony took place, just imagine how it could be described now.

With No. 4 seed Holger Rune already out, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud joined him on the sidelines on Wednesday. Tsitsipas succumbed to Dominic Stricker 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-7(5), 7-6(6), 6-3 during second-round action on Wednesday, while Ruud lost to Zhizhen Zhang 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 0-6, 6-2.

While the top half of the bracket is home Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner, Alexander Zverev, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, and more, the bottom half lacked star power even prior to Wednesday’s results. Now it’s in total chaos. Outside of Novak Djokovic the highest remaining seed is No. 10 Frances Tiafoe. Four third-round matchups on Friday are between unseeded players: Stricker vs. Benjamin Bonzi, Zhang vs. Rinky Hijikata, Ben Shelton vs. Aslan Karatsev, and Jiri Vesely vs. Borna Gojo.

It’s a great opportunity for both Stricker and Zhang to go even farther following their second-round heroics.

Although Tsitsipas has never been at his best at Flushing Meadows, the Greek’s ouster was especially surprising given that he served for the match against Stricker at 5-3 in the fourth set. But the 21-year-old Swiss stormed back from the brink of defeat to steal the fourth in a tiebreaker and then took control with a break early in the fifth. Stricker eventually served out the biggest win of his career from 0-30 down at 5-3.

“(It was a) great performance,” the Swiss said. “I felt good from the first point on. (It) was just great to be out there with so many people supporting me (and) supporting him. So it was just, for me, a great day. I enjoyed it from the first moment on. Yeah, actually (I’m) a bit speechless (at) what happened today.”

It was also the biggest day of Zhang’s professional life. Ruud is ranked fifth and is a three-time major runner-up–including last summer in New York. Now he is out in the second round; Zhang is into the third round.

Things are already crazy in New York, and they may get crazier.

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