Defending champion Naomi Osaka of Japan and Greek third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas were both ousted from the US Open by 18-year-olds in epic stunners on Friday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka was shocked by Canadian left-hander Leylah Fernandez 5-7, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 after Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz upset French Open runner-up Tsitsipas 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 0-6, 7-6 (7/5).
Shock followed shock as defending champion Osaka, in a tearful news conference after the loss, announced she was taking a break from playing tennis.
Osaka, who had won her prior 16 Grand Slam matches, was foiled in a bid for her third US Open crown in four years and the first back-to-back titles since Serena Williams in 2014.
“Incredible. Incredible feeling for me,” Alcaraz said. “This victory means a lot to me. It’s the best match of my career, the best win.
Osaka had a major meltdown on court during the final moments of the second set after she was unable to hold serve for the victory.
Osaka, who hadn’t played since Monday thanks to a second-round walkover, took the first set in 37 minutes on her sixth ace.
That began a sequence of repeated racquet smashing by Osaka as she was humbled in the tie-break to force a third set.
Fernandez, the daughter of an Ecuadoran father and Filipino-Canadian mother who turns 19 on Monday, hit a forehand winner to break Osaka to start the third set.
“It’ll be a battle,” Fernandez said. “We’re just going to have fun. I’ll put on a show like I did tonight.”
– ‘It’s kind of bitter’ –
World number 55 Alcaraz next faces 141st-ranked German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk, who ousted Swiss Henri Laaksonen 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.
The teen nicknamed “Next Nadal” was the crowd darling at Arthur Ashe Stadium, roars erupting when he blasted 33 winners past Tsitsipas.
Tsitsipas opened the final tie-break with an ace but Alcaraz jumped ahead 5-2 and 6-3 before finishing matters after four hours and seven minutes with a forehand winner. He collapsed to the court on his back to celebrate.
Russian second seed Daniil Medvedev, the 2019 US Open and 2021 Australian Open runner-up, beat Spain’s 74th-ranked Pablo Andujar 6-0, 6-4, 6-3. He’s next face British 24th seed Daniel Evans.