Men’s and women’s World numbers three Stefanos Tsitsipas and Naomi Osaka both suffered shocking defeats against 18-year-old opponents in the third round of the 2021 US Open to crash out of the tournament.
After reaching his first Grand Slam final in the French Open earlier this year, 23-year-old Tsitsipas was tipped as one of the next big things in men’s tennis. The Greek world number three defeated Andy Murray and Adrian Mannarino in each of the first two rounds at the US Open before facing unseeded 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz Garfia in the third round. Alcaraz won 6-3 4-6 7-6 0-6 7-6 against his more experienced opponent.
Tsitsipas was shocked as Alcaraz claimed the first set 6-3 to the delight of a partisan crowd at the Arthur Ashe Arena, before fighting back to claim the second set 4-6. Alcaraz was not ready to let go of the match, and he claimed the third set ahead of Tsitsipas 7-6. Tsitsipas claimed the fourth set 6-0 before the 18-year-old Alcaraz won the decider and fifth set 7-6 to claim a brilliant victory in over four hours. Alcaraz is the youngest man to reach the Round of 16 of the US Open, and will now face Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk.
In the women’s category, world number three and defending champion Naomi Osaka was defeated by 18-year-old World number 73 Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open to end her title defence.
Osaka came into the game after receiving a walkover in the second round because her opponent Olga Danilovic pulled up with an illness just before the match. She was also one of the most in-form players in women’s tennis, having won the US Open in 2020 as one of her four Grand Slam titles so far.
Osaka started her third round match against Fernandez as was expected from a player of her quality, taking the first set 7-5. She controlled most of the second set, but seemed to lose focus at a crucial moment before she served for the match, allowing Fernandez to gain a foothold in the match by winning the set 7-6. The teenage star rode on the momentum to claim a 6-4 third set win and secure her place in the fourth round. She will now face Angelique Kerber.
Osaka tearfully announced after her match that she did not know the next time she would be involved in a tennis match as she had decided to take a break from the sport. She missed this year’s Wimbledon tournament because she took a break earlier in the season, too.
In another upset, unseeded Frances Tiafoe defeated fifth seed Andrey Rublev 4-6 6-3 7-6 4-6 6-1 to progress to the fourth round.