The Australian Open lost a second major men’s seed in 24 hours on Thursday as No. 2 Casper Ruud followed Rafael Nadal out the door with an early shock loss.
The Norwegian who was unable to play the event a year ago after a late ankle injury, was stunned 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 in the third round by 22-year-old American Jenson Brooksby, the No. 39 playing here for the first time.
The seed saved three match points in the closing stages to stay alive 4-5 in the third set with a break of his inexperienced opponent. The Scandinavian eventually took the set in a tiebreaker.
But the fourth set was equally disterous, with Brooksby prevailing on his fifth winning chance more than an hour and a quarter after his first match point.
“Casper’s a warrior, I knew it would be a great battle,” the winner said. “I was confident with my level.
“I just wanted to have fun competing and see what could happen. I’m proud of my mental resolve after I lost the third set (after ruud saved three match points) didn’t go my way.
“I was playing strong and didn’t want to lose focus out there. I hope this is the first of many good years to come.”
Ruud, who put in a draining full exhibition schedule in the off season and had said he would take February off to rest, will be getting that down time earlier than expected.
After Nadal’s Wednesday loss to US outsider Makenzie Mcdonald, the Scandinavian would have been tipped for a favourable move though the draw.
Stefanos Tsitsipas remains the top remaining seed.
Ruud was off the boil from the start against Brooksby and could not make the recovery he required.
Even a group of Viking-horned Norwegian fans with their faces painted with the national flag could not inspire the seed enough to produce a comeback win.
The two-time Roland Garros finalist against Nadal was plagued by more than 30 unforced errors in a defeat lasting for more than three hours.
Ruud had been hoping to become the second Norwegian player to
reach the third round here on multiple occasions – after his father and coach, Christian.
Brooksby earned his second career win over a Top 5 player.