Fans were left gobsmacked at the US Open on Tuesday when Novak Djokovic’s quest to complete a calendar year grand slam got off to a bizarre start.
Djokovic was a class above young opponent Holger Rune in the opening set at Flushing Meadows, blitzing his rival 6-1.
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However the second set was a completely different story as 18-year-old qualifier Rune stunned the tennis world to win it in a tie-breaker.
The Danish youngster took a shock 3-0 lead in the second before Djokovic managed to right the ship.
However Rune sent fans into meltdown when he prevailed 7-5 in the breaker to level the match at one set all.
Spectators in attendance frequently cheered ‘Ruuuuuuune’ for the teenage phenom, which some thought were boos directed at Djokovic.
Fans flocked to social media to express their disbelief that the World No.1 had dropped a set to his teenage opponent.
Unfortunately for Rune his body ended up letting him down, with cramping cruelling his bid to complete a shock boilover.
Rune’s movement was hampered in the final two sets, with Djokovic prevailing 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-1 to advance to the second round.
“It wasn’t the best of my performances,” Djokovic acknowledged after the match.
“But at the same time, he played well in the second set when it mattered.”
No man has won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in the same season since Rod Laver did it for the second time 52 years ago.
Alexander Zverev continues hot streak at US Open
Earlier, Olympic champion Alexander Zverev extended his winning streak to 12 matches after ousting Sam Querrey and moving into the second round.
The fourth seed proved too good for the American in the comfortable 6-4 7-5 6-2 opening victory.
The German is considered a major threat to top seed Djokovic after upsetting the Serbian at the Tokyo Games.
Zverev derailed Djokovic’s hopes to become the first man to win a golden slam – all four grand slams and the Olympic title in the same year – when he overcame the world No.1 on his way to winning Tokyo gold.
Zverev – who lost the 2020 US Open final to Dominic Thiem – followed up his Olympic victory by continuing his winning ways, claiming the recent hard-court title at Cincinnati.
“Novak is chasing history,” said Zverev.
“But I think the guys are going to try and get in the way of that and I’m looking forward to maybe giving him a challenge as well.
“I hope in two weeks’ time I’ll be on an 18-match winning streak.”
Zverev said Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev, who lost to Djokovic in the French and Australian Open finals respectively, were two of the potential challengers to the World No.1.
But he was quick to remind reporters of his own win over Djokovic in Tokyo en route to Olympic gold.
“I was the first person to beat him on a hardcourt or grass court this season, and I was also the only person to beat him at a very, very big event this year,” he said.
“I hope I can keep the level up and maybe even play better, because to beat Novak here is going to be an extremely difficult task.”