US Open 2021: Stefanos Tsitsipas prevails after another mid-match break, Sloane Stephens ousts Coco Gauff

·8 min read
Stefanos Tsitsipas, of Greece, returns a shot to Andy Murray, of Great Britain, during the first round of the US Open tennis championships, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Stefanos Tsitsipas, of Greece, returns a shot to Andy Murray, of Great Britain, during the first round of the US Open tennis championships, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Round 2 of the US Open kicked off on Wednesday, and even though the field was cut in half, there was still an incredible amount of tennis happening. 

One player we didn't see on Wednesday was Naomi Osaka. She was set to face Olga Danilovic in one of the day's first matches, but won in a walkover after Danilovic withdrew due to illness. So Osaka has automatically advanced to Round 3, but the downside is that we don't get to see her play tennis again until at least Friday. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas does it again

Stefanos Tsitsipas is an incredibly talented 23-year-old with a legitimate shot at winning the US Open as the No. 3 seed, and the dominant narrative through his first two matches will be bathroom breaks.

Two days after earning the ire of Andy Murray by taking a lengthy bathroom break between sets, Tsitsipas again took a between-sets break on his way to a win. The Greek player defeated Adrian Mannorino 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (7-4), 6-0 to advance to the third round.

Tsitsipas credited the seven-minute break he took between the third and fourth sets after the match, though it doesn't sound like this one was for the toilet.

“My break after the third set," Tsitsipas said when asked about what caused his 6-0 win in the fourth. "I was completely wet so the break helped me a lot.”

A career-high 27 aces also helped Tsitsipas defeat Mannorino. Even losing the third set via tiebreak, it was still a strong showing for Tsitsipas, who won 85 percent of his first serves, 63 percent of his seconds and 5-of-7 break points.

Waiting for Tsitsipas will now be 18-year-old Carlos Alcarez of Spain, who has opened his US Open career with wins over No. 26 seed Cameron Norrie and Arthur Rinderknech.

Armstrong Stadium match suspended due to rain

A tennis match getting suspended for rain isn't too unusual, but it is noteworthy when that match's stadium has a roof.

A match between No. 11 seed Diego Schwartzman and South African Kevin Anderson was suspended when the torrential rain hitting New York City found its way into Louis Armstrong Stadium:

The match will be resumed on Thursday with Schwartzman leading 7-6 (7-4), 1-0. The next scheduled match, Angelique Kerber vs. Anhelina Kalinina, will also be held Thursday.

Ex-champ Stephens ousts Gauff in straight sets

As remnants of Hurricane Ida pelted the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with high winds and heavy rain, Stephens defeated Gauff under the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof in straight sets to advance to the third round.

Stephens broke Gauff three times while holding every one of her serves to secure the 6-4, 6-2 victory that qualified as an upset of the No. 21-seeded Gauff. It was Stephens' second straight victory over a fellow American after defeating close friend Madison Keys in Monday's opening round. The 28-year-old is seeking her second US Open title after winning in 2017.

Both players were evenly matched early with each struggling to do much with her opponent's serve. But 17-year-old Gauff cracked late in the opening set, and Stephens took advantage. With the set tied at 4-4, Gauff double-faulted on game point for the first break of the match. The break allowed Stephens to serve for the set leading, 5-4. She took advantage. 

From that moment, Stephens was in complete control. She broke Gauff in the second set to take a 3-2 lead. She broke her once again to serve for the match with a double-break advantage, leading 5-2. Gauff failed to return her serve in a fitting end to a dominant effort by Stephens. 

Stephens, who has since struggled to approach the highs of her 2017 US Open title, then met Gauff for a hug at the net before thanking an appreciative Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.

Stephens advances to face the winner between No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber and Anhelina Kalinina.

French Open champ Krejcikova cruises

Barbora Krejcikova's quest for a second 2021 Grand Slam title survived without drama. The reigning French Open champion and No. 8 seed defeated American Christina McHale, 6-3, 6-1 Wednesday afternoon. She advances to face Kamilla Rakhimova in Round 3. 

No. 8 Casper Ruud defeated by unseeded Botic van de Zandschulp

Casper Ruud, seeded 8th at the US Open and ranked 11th in the world in men's singles, has been upset by the unseeded Botic van de Zandschulp.

Van de Zandschulp, who is ranked 117th in men's singles by the ATP, defeated Ruud 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to Round 3.

Ruud started the match by losing the first two games, but he quickly took control and easily won the first set. But then van de Zandschulp's game started coming together, and he started giving Ruud a major challenge. The two battled throughout the second set, but van de Zandschulp managed to string two games together, which neither had been able to do in the second set, and won 6-4. 

Ruud never looked like he was completely out of it, but by the third set van de Zandschulp was cooking with gas. 

Ruud's issue was finishing. He was able to stay with van de Zandschulp through the first few games of the final three sets, but each time he let van de Zandschulp get a game or so ahead of him and he couldn't catch up. 

While there's a chance that van de Zandschulp will end up winning the US Open, it's not likely. But if there was a contest for best name of the tournament, he'd win in a landslide.

Rublev cruises after rough start

No. 5 Andrey Rublev had some tough moments at the beginning of his match against Pedro Martinez (the tennis player, not the Hall of Fame pitcher), but he managed to shake them off and win 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-1 to advance to Round 3.

Rublev looked shaky from the start. Martinez won the first three games and five of the first seven before Rublev could fight back and get some momentum going. He won three straight games, then forced a tiebreaker which he won easily. With that little comeback, it felt like his troubles were behind him. 

Then came the second set. Neither Rublev or Martinez managed to win more than one game in a row. After Martinez won a close tiebreaker, it looked like this match might become an epic, five-set battle. 

Unfortunately for fans, it wasn't to be. Rublev dominated the final two sets, allowing Martinez to win just one game in each. 

Rublev will face American Frances Tiafoe in Round 3.

Notes from Day 3

A lot of seeded players advanced to Round 3 on Wednesday, which meant very few upsets but a lot of high quality tennis. 

No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev looked great in his 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over Dominik Koepfer.

Aryna Sabalenka, seeded No. 2 on the women's side, battled sore fingers throughout her match against Tamara Zidansek. She dominated anyway, winning 6-3, 6-1 in just 59 minutes, and will take on American Danielle Collins (No. 26) in Round 3. No. 12 Simona Halep also beat her opponent, Kristina Kucova, by the same score (6-3, 6-1), but it took nine more minutes. Halep will next face Elena Rybakina (No. 19).

No. 9 Garbiñe Muguruza and No. 18 Victoria Azarenka both won their matches on Wednesday, and they'll face each other in Round 3 on Thursday. Other winners include No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 20 Ons Jabeur, and No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The match of the day belonged to Frances Tiafoe, who put on an energetic, animated show in his win over Guido Pella.

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