Fritz and Zverev fall after Ruud as bottom half of men’s draw disintegrates

Fritz joins Casper Ruud and Alexander Zverev on the sidelines as the seeds tumbled on Thursday

Taylor Fritz Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – January 19, 2023 Taylor Fritz of the U.S. during his second round match against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

The bottom half of the men’s singles draw of the Australian Open has opened right up on Thursday as some big names crumbled in second-round action.

And the chances are it means there will be an unseeded player in the quarter-finals.

Eighth seed Taylor Fritz came into the tournament on a high after winning the United Cup with his USA team-mates, but fell to wild card Alexei Popyrin 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.

The Australian will next face another unseeded player, Ben Shelton of the USA, in the third round.

And the winner of that match will definitely play an unseeded American in the fourth round.

Lucky loser Michael Mmoh took out the 12th seed Alexander Zverev, who has admittedly been suffering with injury over the past year.

Mmoh will now play his compatriot JJ Wolf – who eliminated 23rd seed Diego Schwartzman in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 – in the third round.

And there’s another all-American third-round clash as Tommy Paul and Jenson Brooksby meet. Paul knocked out 30th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 6-2, 2-6, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, while Brooksby shocked second seed Casper Ruud, 6-3, 7-5, 6-7, 6-2. The Norwegian – chasing his first Grand Slam title – even had the chance to step up to the world No 1 spot had he lifted the title.

How the men’s singles draw looks

So that means the third round in that part of the draw looks like this:

  • Popyrin v Shelton
  • Wolf v Mmoh
  • Murray/Kokkinakis v Holt/Bautista Agut
  • Paul v Brooksby

The potential fourth-round matches run as follows:

  • Popyrin/Shelton v Wolf/Mmoh
  • Murray/Kokkinakis/Holt/Bautista Agut v Paul/Brooksby

Roberto Bautista Agut is the only seeded player remaining in that section, which means a huge opportunity for someone. Of course, Murray has made many Grand Slam quarter-finals before, and Bautista Agut has reached the Wimbledon semi-finals previously as well as the quarters in Melbourne – but none of the others has got to that stage of any major.

It also means that Novak Djokovic – chasing his record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title – is likely to be feeling much more confident about dealing with any future opponents.

Men’s seeds out of the Australian Open so far

  • Rafael Nadal (1)
  • Casper Ruud (2)
  • Taylor Fritz (8)
  • Alexander Zverev (12)
  • Matteo Berrettini (13)
  • Pablo Carreno Busta (14)
  • Lorenzo Musetti (17)
  • Borna Coric (21)
  • Diego Schwartzman (23)
  • Miomir Kecmanovic (26)
  • Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (30)
  • Botic van de Zandschulp (32)

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