Casper Ruud made two grand slam finals last year, but his 2023 Australian Open campaign fell to pieces with a shock second-round loss to 22-year-old Jenson Brooksby.
American Brooksby prevailed on his fifth match point, after fluffing three in the third set, when second seed Ruud hit a return long. That sealed a 6-3 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 victory in three hours and 55 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Ruud's demise on Thursday means he joins top seed Rafael Nadal in exiting early in Melbourne, with the Norwegian departing in the Spaniard's wake after struggling through the first two sets before a medical time-out prior to the third.
Ruud staved off three match points at 5-3 down in the third, when Brooksby got tight with victory in sight, before winning the set in a tie-break.
However, Brooksby regained his composure in the fourth set and broke twice early to open up a 3-0 lead, barely looking back.
Brooksby's triumph is the biggest of his career, having only ever previously beaten one top-10 player, Stefanos Tsitsipas, at last year's Indian Wells. It also provides an early highlight in Brooksby's first Australian Open, having missed out in 2022 after testing positive for COVID-19 on the eve of the tournament.
"I was just really proud of my mental resolve after that third-set battle didn’t go my way," Brooksby said during an on-court post-match interview. "I thought I was playing really strong. I didn’t want to lose my focus out there."
Ruud, who was the runner-up at both the 2022 French Open and 2022 US Open, could not match Brooksby's 50 winners, while the Norwegian committed 55 unforced errors. He also failed to capitalise on Brooksby's unconvincing 57 per cent first-serve percentage.
Data Slam: Americans maintain winning form in men's singles
Brooksby's triumph sets up a third-round date with compatriot Tommy Paul as the Americans continue to make waves in the men's singles draw. It was another American, Mackenzie McDonald, who upset Nadal on Wednesday, while a flood of US stars have reached the third round.
Brooksby – 2/2
Ruud – 5/4
Brooksby – 50/48
Ruud – 33/55
BREAK POINTS WON
Brooksby – 9/13
Ruud – 4/12