LONDON: French Open finalist Casper Ruud crashed out of the Queen´s grass-court tournament on Tuesday, beaten by British unknown Ryan Peniston in straight sets.
The 26-year-old Peniston, playing in his first ATP Tour main draw, won two tie-breaks to beat the world number five 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/2).
Norwegian Ruud, a clay-court specialist, struggled with his timing throughout and also needed treatment on a hip after taking a tumble on the baseline.
Peniston, ranked 180th in the world, won five points in a row on his way to taking the first-set tie-break, not long after Ruud had slipped on set point.
Ruud took another tumble early in the second set but broke Peniston for the first time for 4-3, only for the home hope to hit straight back before completing the job in another tie-break.
Peniston, who has a Wimbledon wildcard, survived cancer as a baby before going on to join the professional tennis ranks after learning his trade in France and at the University of Memphis.
“I can´t really believe it, it feels like a dream,” he said. I didn´t get much sleep last night, it doesn´t feel real.
“I´ve been playing well. Obviously Casper is an unreal player, he did so well at the French Open so I knew it was a tough ask, but you have to step on the court knowing you´ve got a chance to win. So, that´s what I did.”
When he was just one year old Peniston was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft-tissue cancer, and needed surgery and chemotherapy as well as regular check-ups for years afterwards.
“It was definitely a difficult start to my life,” he said. “I don´t remember much. But for my parents and my brothers, I think it must have been a pretty, pretty tough time.
“But I had the amazing, amazing doctors and amazing nurses who helped me through that — and my family, huge, huge thanks to them.
“And yeah, standing here today, that was pretty good.”
Defending champion Matteo Berrettini beat Britain´s Dan Evans 6-3, 6-3, restoring order after all four of the other top five seeds fell victim to first-round upsets.
The Italian, fresh from winning his sixth ATP Tour title in Stuttgart, claimed the 2021 Queen´s Club title before reaching the Wimbledon final, finishing the grass season with an 11-1 record.
“I love to play on grass,” he said. “I love to play here. I got a (hand) surgery a few months ago and I didn´t know if I was able to play this grass season so I´m really thankful to be here.”
Earlier, US player Sam Querrey beat fifth-seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-4.