Paris: After four sets of spectacular shotmaking and countless twists and turns, it was Alexander Zverev, who eventually emerged victorious with a 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1, 7-6(5) result against Frances Tiafoe in a thrilling third round French Open clash on late Saturday night, here.
The 22nd-seeded German improved his ATP Head to Head record against Tiafoe to 7-1 with the win. By beating the American in the pair’s first clay-court meeting, Zverev advanced to the Roland Garros fourth round for the sixth straight year and continued his chase for a third straight Paris semi-final.
“I’m happy to be through. I’m happy to be in the fourth round and be in the second week of a Grand Slam. It’s, for sure, a great thing for me right now,” said Zverev in his post-match presentation.
For Tiafoe, his best Roland Garros run ended in the third round, with the match finishing after midnight on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Zverev, whose 2022 Roland Garros campaign ended in agony when he injured his ankle midway through his semi-final against Rafael Nadal, showed glimpses of the form that helped him challenge the Spaniard in that epic match one year ago.
Both Zverev and Tiafoe did damage on both attack and defence in a match filled with cat-and-mouse points, with both uncorking sublime passing shots and each winning their share of delicate duels in the frontcourt. It was a gripping contest that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats with both the tight scoreline and the varied shotmaking that put power, precision and touch on display in equal measures.
Zverev, who hit 13 aces and 10 double faults in the victory, cashed in on five of his 14 breakpoints while Tiafoe converted five of his 10 break chances in a topsy-turvy encounter. The last break came with Tiafoe serving to force a fifth set at 5-3 in the fourth, as Zverev snapped back after losing his own serve in the previous game.
A warm embrace at the net was a fitting end to a monumental match that could spark another deep run for Zverev.
Next up for the German is a meeting with 28th seed Grigor Dimitrov Monday. The Bulgarian advanced with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 win against Daniel Altmaier. Both Dimitrov and Altmaier were bidding to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros for the second time after previous runs to that stage in 2020.
The winner between Zverev and Dimitrov will face 27th seed Yoshihito Nishioka or Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the quarter-finals in a wide-open section of the draw.