Tsitsipas, Thiem, Khachanov crash out of US Open

Published by Reuters / Tennismash

Stefanos Tsitsipas suffered a four-set loss to Andrey Rublev in the first round of the US Open (Getty Images)
Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, Karen Khachanov and Roberto Bautista Agut the biggest names to fall on a stunning day of upsets in the US Open men’s first round.

Russian Andrey Rublev used a steady stream of power from the baseline to upset eighth-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(7) 7-5 on Tuesday and reach the second round of the U.S. Open.

World No.43 Rublev, who two weeks ago earned the biggest win of his career when he beat Roger Federer in the third round at Cincinnati, attacked Tsitsipas with a barrage of all-in forehands and broke his opponent five times in the match.

Following eighth seed Tsitsipas out of the tournament was last year’s quarterfinalist Dominic Thiem.

The fourth seed fell in four sets to Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano, who beat Tsitsipas in the first round at Wimbledon.

Another big casualty was No.10 seed Roberto Bautista Agut; the Wimbledon semifinalist and Australian Open quarterfinalist was stunned 3-6 6-1 6-4 3-6 6-3 by Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin.

With Tsitsipas, Thiem and Bautista Agut all the same section of the draw, the third quarter is now wide open; 13th seed Gael Monfils is now the highest seed remaining in that section.

No.30 seed Kyle Edmund also bowed out, yet No.6 seed Alexander Zverev survived Radu Albot in five sets, despite leading two sets to love.

Later on Tuesday there was another stunning result when world No.216 Vasek Pospisil upset No.9 seed Karen Khachanov in five sets.

The Canadian, who missed the first six months of the season following back surgery and who has now played just seven matches in 2019, won 4-6 7-5 7-5 4-6 6-3 to set up a meeting with Tennys Sandgren, who recovered from two-sets-to-love down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime, the 18th seed, was thumped 6-1 6-1 6-4 in an all-Canadian affair against Denis Shapovalov.

Rublev too tough

Rublev displayed near flawless judgment with his shotmaking throughout the match and while Tsitsipas tried to lure him off the baseline, the Russian stuck to his gameplan to prevail in a battle of 21-year-olds that lasted nearly four hours.

“Both of us were tired. He started to cramp … I was cramping in the match and tried not to show it,” said Rublev. “When you win matches like this it gives you lots of confidence.”

Tsitsipas, whose best showing at a Grand Slam came this year in Australia where he reached the semifinals, received a coaching warning early in the third set at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

The Greek, one game after receiving a time violation in the fourth set, then became furious when the umpire would not allow him extra time on the changeover to change his bandana.

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An angry Tsitsipas told the umpire: “You’re a weirdo, you’re all weirdos.” He also asked to be given a point penalty, which the umpire granted at 3-4 before Rublev went on to hold to love.

Up next for Rublev, who reached the US open quarter-finals in 2017, will be Frenchman Gilles Simon, who beat American wildcard Bjorn Fratangelo.

Meanwhile, Bautista Augut, a recent entrant into the top 10, was broken seven times by Kukushkin as he exited the year’s final Grand Slam event in the opening round for the second consecutive year.

It was Kukushkin’s first victory over the Spaniard in four career meetings.

Up next for the Kazakh will be Australia’s Alexei Popyrin, who beat Argentine Federico Delbonis 6-1 7-5 7-6(5) earlier on Tuesday.

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