Thursday was the day of the teenagers with Russia’s Andrey Rublev leading the way as he joined Denis Shapovalov in the third round of the US Open with a stunning display to oust the seventh seeded Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets.
There was also the possibility that the 28-year-old American Taylor Fritz could join them but he was eventually outplayed by Dominic Thiem but did take a set off the Austrian.
"I was thinking before the match -- I have to play my rhythm - my speed - because I know with my speed I can compete with any of the top players and I did it Andrey Rublev
Rublev, just 19 and the world number 53, stunned Dimitov 7-5 7-6(3) 6-3 to make the third round of a grand slam for the first time in his career.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I’m very happy to win this match,” said Rublev following his remarkable victory over the experienced Bulgarian who had won the Cincinnati Masters just a few weeks ago.
He now plays Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur for a place in the last 16.
“I was thinking before the match — I have to play my rhythm – my speed – because I know with my speed I can compete with any of the top players and I did it.”
Dimitrov joins a series of other marquee names who have suddenly found themselves shown the door out of Flushing Meadows, namely yesterday, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 Australian Open finalist, to Shapovalov, the 18-year-old Canadian qualifier, and late last night, Alexander Zverev, the fourth seed, who was beaten by Bosnia’s Borna Coric 6-3 5-7 6-7(1) 6-7(4).
Zverev, who was a contender to claim his first major title having won five titles this season, was disappointed at his performance.
“It’s upsetting. Today was upsetting,” the young German said. “The way I played was upsetting.”
One of the more striking performances was delivered by Alexandr Dolgopolov who has come under suspicion for match fixing at the Winston-Salem Open warm-up event to the last major of the season.
His reaction was very vocal when he faced a press conference on Wednesday to deny all the claims allegedly made against him centring on suspicious betting patterns surrounding his match on the 20th August with Thiago Monteiro, which he lost 6-3 6-3.
The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) have confirmed they are looking into the match after concerns were raised over those betting patterns but no formal investigation has been launched.
When asked about the matter following his defeat of Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round Dolgopolov exploded. “You want my honest answer? I don’t give a f*** to be honest because it’s like a circus,” the 28-year-old said, before inferring ‘fake news’ and that the media coverage was “fairytales”.
“I don’t want to even talk about it. I talked to the TIU, I respect their work, I gave all the information needed.
“That’s going to be what happens and these guys are still going to write that. For me, writing those things before there is an investigation is silly.”
There was a certain amount of ‘bravado’ in the Ukranian’s two-hour and 37-minutes performance as he took out the 15th seeded Tomas Berdych 3-6 6-1 7-6(5) 6-2 over two hours and 37 minutes to not only record his second win over the Czech in six meetings, but also reach the third round at the US Open for the first time since 2012.
Then towards the early evening Roger Federer came close to joining the exodus as Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny, 35, a player he had beaten 16 times without a loss, found himself struggling in the middle of the match before finally recovering from two sets to one down to make round three 6-1 6-7(3) 4-6 6-4 6-2 after three-hours and five-minutes.
There were signs that his back was giving him trouble as his backhand lacked its usual punch and the rotation on the serve was not as crisp as usual but the third seed remained focused and gave no indication that he was suffering difficulties.
Youzhny on the other hand, having saved himself from a bagel in the first set, found the confidence to take the match to Federer and was well rewarded to take the lead but he also then ran into difficulties as he started to cramp up towards the end of the fourth.
At the end of the match a relieved Federer praised the 35-year-old for battling through and producing the best match between the two.
“It wasn’t always like this back then but these five set battles are quite a lot of fun,” Federer said “But I feel quite warmed up now.
“I haven’t played a lot of guys with cramp in the last decade or so and the rules have changed in the meantime.
“You’re not allowed to get any support from the Physio if you got cramp so it’s hard to watch.
“I was feeling there for Mikhail and we go way back to the 1998 juniors, we played doubles against each other here.
“So, it’s nice to see we’re both still playing and this was probably our best match so it was fun here today.”
In other matches for places in the last 32, the 2009 champion Juan Martín Del Potro, the 24th seeded Argentine, saw off the Spanish qualifier Adrian Menendez-Maceiras 6-2 6-3 7-6(3), Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur beat German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 4-6 6-4 6-0 6-1, Australian John Millman defeated Malek Jaziri from Tunisia 6-1 7-6(1) 6-1 and Viktor Troicki from Serbia defeated Italian Stefano Travaglia 7-6(6) 7-5 6-0.