While beating the top seed in the bottom half of the draw is a great result for Borna Coric, it is hard to overstate just what a bad result this is for the US Open, and for tennis in general.
Unless Coric makes a deep run--and there is nothing in his recent results to suggest that he's ready to do so--then all we've seen here is the top young talent in the game get knocked out not because of some amazing performance by his opponent but because of the particularly New York stupidity in match scheduling. Zverev didn't even start his match Monday night until after 10:30 pm. He finished at 2:02 Tuesday morning. After press, the return drive to Manhattan, and then trying to get to sleep after all the adrenaline of a hard-fought tennis match, it was reported that he didn't get to sleep until 6am.
And you could clearly see, as the match wore on, that he was physically and emotionally exhausted. He was emotionally flat. He had no pop in his legs. Yes, he hit 43 winners, but that went with 58 unforced errors. But importantly, of those 43 winners, 22 were aces. That meant that he was unable to put a point away once it got started. And anyone who has watched Sascha Zverev play know that this is not a normally a problem for him.
By depriving an already-depleted draw of most of the star power in the bottom half of the draw, the organizers have denied themselves a hook to draw in the interest of the casual fan. With so much hand-wringing happening about how to grow the game, it might be worth the USTA taking a closer look at how they schedule.
On the other hand, Denis Shapovalov's win against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga was great for the game. First of all, he simply played Tsonga off the court. But second of all, it was the manner in which he did it. He played utterly fearless tennis. Frequently he hit shots that were near-impossible, and the vibe he gave off was that it never occurred to him that the shot was impossible. It's thrilling and joyous to watch, and one has to hope that he goes a long way in this tournament--it would be a fantastic narrative to counter the loss of Sascha.