Drama at US Open as Naomi Osaka and Stefanos Tsitsipas OUT, new teenage stars are born, Dan Evans wins five-set thriller after being inspired by Australian cricket hero Ricky Ponting
Day five of the US Open had just about everything.
There were five-set thrillers, Brits starring and top seeds losing to teenage sensations.
The big story of the day was last year’s champion, Naomi Osaka, losing to 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez in three sets.
The Japan superstar, who is a four-time Grand Slam winner, was the No.3 seed for this year’s tournament at Flushing Meadows.
After winning the first set 7-5, it looked as though she would be heading to the fourth round.
But teenager Fernandez went toe-to-toe with Osaka and took the next two sets. The second in a tie break and the third 6-4.
Arthur Ashe Stadium saw two shock results on Friday night as men’s No.3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas lost to 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz.
Tsitsipas was very much the villain of the piece as the crowd got behind the rising star and cheered him over the line in the five-set epic that lasted more than four hours.
The third seed had come under fire for the timing and length of his toilet breaks, with Andy Murray heavily criticising him following their first-round match.
The Flushing Meadows crowd subsequently turned on the Greek and booed him during his five-set loss to the Spanish teenager, who prevailed 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 0-6, 7-6 (5).
Alcaraz is certainly one to watch for the future, having been tipped for big things by compatriot Rafael Nadal.
British No.1 Dan Evans pulled off a brilliant comeback to defeat Alexei Popyrin and reach the fourth round of the US Open for the first time.
Popyrin took the opening two sets but Evans dug in and battled his way to a 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (1) victory in a stunning spectacle.
The 31-year-old’s only previous visit to the fourth round at a major came back in 2017 at the Australian Open and his reward is a crack at second seed Daniil Medvedev.
It has been a tough couple of months for Evans after a debilitating bout of coronavirus forced him to miss the Olympics and left him struggling physically.
He also revealed that Australian cricket legend Ricky Ponting’s autobiography has served as motivation during his trip to the United States.
He said: “There’s probably a bit of irony in this. I started reading Ricky Ponting’s book at the start of this trip. I wasn’t feeling great. It’s been pretty inspirational, motivational.
“I took a few things from that. He had some pretty tough times when he was captain. That’s the reason why I took to the book, because I’d been told about it.
“I’ve looked to learn a bit along the trip. I’ve got to know probably a bit more about myself. I’m never that far away from getting to a decent level. But I have to be patient. It was not easy by any stretch of imagination.
“I was low on confidence. I think from his book, back yourself. He writes a lot down the night before on what he wanted to do, how he wanted to go out the next day. Really reminded himself what he needs to do.
“I think just especially with the way I play, if you’re forgetting certain things, which when I haven’t played for a while I obviously did, how I can be effective. (He’s) a really tough character, really helped.
“In best-of-five sets, being tough is one of the main things you need to be, hanging in.
“It’s obviously a very different game, but I just enjoyed it. I took some things which I’ll probably use now for the rest of my career.”