Comeback king Zverev reaches first Slam last 8

AFP
Alexander Zverev claimed his third successive comeback win at the French Open to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal yesterday, edging Russian Karen Khachanov in five sets.
AFP
AFP

Germany’s Alexander Zverev reacts after beating Russia’s Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the fourth round. The second seed will take on Thiem in the last eight.

German second seed Alexander Zverev claimed his third successive comeback win at the French Open to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal yesterday, edging Russian Karen Khachanov in five sets.

The 21-year-old played some stunning tennis in the closing stages of a dramatic 4-6, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 fourth-round victory and will next face Dominic Thiem, who reached a third successive quarterfinal in Paris by seeing off Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4.

World No. 38 Khachanov has now lost at the last-16 stage at Roland Garros twice in a row, while Zverev ended his wait for a maiden major last-eight appearance at the 12th attempt.

“Well, I’m young, so I might as well stay on court, get some practice and entertain you guys,” smiled Zverev, who is bidding to become the first German man to win the French Open since 1937. “Me and my brother (Mischa) are guys that spend three, four hours a day in the gym, lifting heavy weights, on the treadmill. It paid off today.”

A tight first set heated up in the 10th game when Zverev saved two set points, the second after becoming incensed when the umpire overturned a line call of out from a Khachanov shot.

But the Russian sealed the set at the third time of asking, leaving the world No. 3 needing a fightback for the third consecutive match.

There was excitement at the end of the second set, too, as a marathon game saw Zverev fail to serve it out to level the match, firing long on Khachanov’s fifth break point after wasting three set points. But the German gathered himself, taking a tie-break as the momentum swung back in his favor.

That proved a false dawn for Zverev, though, as Khachanov eased through the third set with some powerful hitting.

But Zverev, as he did in his wins over Dusan Lajovic and Damir Dzumhur, forced a decider, sealing the set with an ace after saving two break points.

And he secured an impressive victory, finishing the match with 63 winners and 17 aces.

Thiem, the only man to beat Rafael Nadal on clay this year, held off a short-lived Nishikori revival on Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a clash with Zverev.

“I think that’s the matchup most of the fans in Germany and Austria were hoping for when they saw the draw,” he said.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens cruised past Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-0, 6-2 to book a last-eight spot for the first time.

Stephens, the 10th seed, had previously made the fourth round for four successive seasons and will next play either Australian Open champion and second seed Caroline Wozniacki or Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.

Fellow American, 13th seed Madison Keys, also reached her first Roland Garros quarterfinal with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Keys, the US Open runner-up to Stephens last year, will face Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva for a place in the semifinals, after the world No. 98 beat Czech Barbora Strycova 6-4, 6-3.

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