Last year’s US Open runner-up Casper Ruud said China’s Zhang Zhizhen would be a threat for years to come after falling to the world number 67 at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday in a rematch of their French Open meeting.
World number five Ruud had rallied to beat Zhang in four sets on the red clay of Roland Garros in June, but the Norwegian found the 26-year-old’s forehand too hot to handle in New York, suffering a 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 0-6, 6-2 second-round loss.
“He plays really aggressive,” Ruud told reporters. “I think today he played better forehand than in Roland Garros, was more mistakes from the forehand last time. That was my game plan, try to play heavy to his forehand and make him run on the forehand.
“He was just slapping winners crosscourt, down the line, coming to the net. Made it really uncomfortable for me, played fast. Credit to him. I think he played really good, honestly.”
Ruud said Zhang was the better player in the match’s key moments.
“That was different from Paris. In Paris I was the one who stepped up when I had to. It’s a different surface, of course,” he added.
“He has a great serve, beautiful backhand and forehand also. When it’s on, it’s on and really dangerous. I was impressed in a way how he played. He’s going to be a threat for many years.”
Ruud was runner-up at Roland Garros for a second straight year but exited the other three Grand Slams in the second round. His next goal will be to seal a place in the season-ending ATP Finals in November.
“It’s going to be a hectic race for that,” he added. “I hope I can be one of the contenders to get there in the end.”
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