- Casper Ruud was the No. 5 seed in the tournament
- Zhizhen Zhang was unseeded
- Zhang is the Chinese man to beat a player in the ATP’s top five
In a landmark victory, Zhizhen Zhang upsets No. 5 seed Casper Ruud, marking the first time a Chinese man beats a top-five ATP player.
Zhizhen Zhang Upsets Casper Ruud at US Open
Zhizhen Zhang, marking his name in tennis history, clinched a significant victory on Wednesday night by defeating Casper Ruud, the 2022 US Open runner-up. With this win, Zhang has become the first Chinese man to overpower a player ranked in the ATP’s top five.
The underdog, Zhang, triumphed over Ruud with a final score of 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 0-6, 6-2, securing his place in the third round of a Grand Slam event for the second time. This victory isn’t the only achievement for Zhang at the US Open. Earlier in the tournament, he celebrated another five-set win, showcasing his remarkable turnaround from previous losses.
Remaining undeterred by past defeats, Zhang’s breakthrough was evident when he outlasted J.J. Wolf in a grueling 4½ hour match. Expressing his determined mindset, Zhang remarked, “Try to just keep playing and keep believing yourself every single time… In the end, you’ll make it.”
Zhang’s journey has been replete with milestones. In 2021, he set the record by being the first Chinese man to compete in Wimbledon’s main draw in the professional era. His US Open journey last year was equally notable, joining Yibing Wu as the first male players from China in the main draw of this prestigious Grand Slam.
However, not every memory from his past tournaments is a cherished one. Recalling last year’s US Open, Zhang admitted to a painful memory, having lost a chance to advance by conceding seven match points against Tim van Rijthoven. Yet, his performance this year has been noticeably different, highlighted by his recent win against Ruud.
Reflecting on their match, Ruud, who has previously contested in the finals of three out of the last six Grand Slam events, acknowledged Zhang’s prowess. “At the most important moments he was the better player. He stepped up,” Ruud said, contrasting the match to their encounter in Paris.
Ruud’s loss is particularly notable as he remains the highest-ranked Norwegian in the ATP rankings’ history, having achieved No. 2 last year and currently sitting at No. 5. However, in the recent match, Zhang’s dominance was evident. After Ruud dropped the fourth set in a mere 23 minutes, Zhang capitalized, breaking Ruud’s serve to secure a commanding 4-1 lead in the final set.
As Zhang prepares to face Rinky Hijikata of Australia in the next round, Ruud, despite his loss, sees a bright future for the Chinese player. “He’s going to be a threat for many years,” he predicted.
The early eliminations in this year’s US Open have sent shockwaves through the tennis community. With both No. 4 seed Holger Rune and Ruud out of the competition, this marks the first occasion since 2006 where multiple top-five seeded men have been knocked out before the third round.
Ruud had the eighth-best odds of winning the US Open. This loss already guarantees that we will not have a rematch of last year’s US Open final. Depending on how the other top players do in this tournament, we could see Ruud dropping in the ATP rankings.