Second seed Casper Ruud has come under fire from tennis fans after being bundled out of the second round of the Australian Open by American Jenson Brooksby. The Norwegian - viewed by many as a legitimate contender for the title before the tournament - was given a rude awakening as he succumbed to the 22-year-old American, 6-3, 7-5, 6-7, 6-2.
In fairness, the scoreline was flattering on Ruud, who could have been bundled out in straight sets if Brooksby took his chances in a rollercoaster third set. The American squandered three match points after letting the third set slip against Ruud, but regained his composure to easily claim the fourth set and his place in the third round.
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Time and time again, Ruud was punished after hitting to the dangerous backhand of his American opponent, with fans calling him out over the questionable tactic. Ruud got back in the contest after claiming the third set but any momentum he may have built up seemed to evaporate as the Norwegian took a lengthy break for medical treatment between sets.
When he did return, Ruud looked like a shadow of the man that had just forced the match into a four set, as Brooksby re-established his dominance.
Before he knew it, Ruud found himself a double break down at the start of the fourth set as Brooksby jumped out to a 3-0 lead, before both players were able to hold serve. The American soon went 5-1 up to leave the No.2 seed having to hold serve to stay in the tournament, with Ruud doing so with relative ease.
With a spot in the third round on his own racquet, Brooksby turned on the style, fashioning an extraordinary backhand winner before giving himself two match points. After stumbling again on his first chance with a sloppy shot from the baseline, the American's passage into the next round was finally secured when Ruud's shot from the baseline sailed long.
Brooksby was ecstatic afte the massive upset win, which was the third-longest of his career. The American admitted in his post-match interview that he was relieved to have been able to move on from the disappointment of failing to convert one of his three match points in the third set.
Fans in disbelief over 'shocking' Casper Ruud display
While the 22-year-old American was overjoyed with his victory, Ruud cut a forlorn figure as he promptly made his exit from Rod Laver Arena. It was a bitterly disappointing showing from the Norwegian, with fans left in shock by the performance of the No.2 seed.
"Casper is a warrior and I knew it would be a great battle," said Brooksby, who is playing his maiden Australian Open, having missed the 2022 tournament due to a positive Covid-19 test. "I'm really proud of my mental resolve after the third-set battle didn't go my way and to be able to turn it around."
His opponent in the third round will be fellow unseeded American Tommy Paul, who outlasted Spanish No.30 seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 2-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-4. "That's going to be another battle for sure and hopefully we get a great court," said Brooksby.
Ruud's departure means the top two men's seeds have bowed out in the space of 24 hours after World No.2 and defending champ Rafael Nadal lost to another American, Mackenzie McDonald, on Wednesday. Fifth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev also booked his spot in the third round on Thursday with a convincing victory over Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori.
Rublev overcame a poor third-set tiebreak to win 6-2 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 in two hours, 42 minutes. It's the fifth time the 25-year-old Rublev has advanced to at least the third round at Melbourne Park, where his best result yet was a run to the quarter-finals in 2021.
The World No.6 lost his opening matches of the two Adelaide International events this month to Thanasi Kokkinakis and Roberto Bautista-Agut but is starting to find his groove at the year's first grand slam. His opponent in the round of 32 on Saturday will be Britain's Daniel Evans after the No.25 seed made short work of Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, winning 6-4 6-4 6-1.
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