Done & Dustin: Brown Topples Zverev In Stuttgart
German to play Auger-Aliassime in last eight
A couple hours after second seed Karen Khachanov bowed out in Stuttgart, the 34-year-old qualifier knocked out fellow German Zverev 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3 in only his second tour-level match of 2019.
“I am very, very happy,” said Brown. “I didn’t have a good grass-court swing last year and just wanted to come and play very good tennis. Stuttgart is a little bit at altitude and I think that helped my game. I’ve won three very good matches, two in qualifying and one against [John] Millman. The court played a little slower today and it was tough especially against Alex, who is a very good returner. So I had to make a lot of first serves and the break in the first set helped me to gain confidence.”
Brown recovered from 2-5 down in the second set and missed out on an opportunity to break Zverev at 5-5, when the World No. 170 hit a backhand volley into the net. He later needed to save three break points at 3-3 in the deciding set.
It was only the fourth Top 10 win of his career, and the first since February 2017 when Brown beat then No. 7-ranked Marin Cilic in the Open Sud de France second round. He also beat Rafael Nadal on grass courts at 2014 Halle and 2015 Wimbledon.
Brown, who had not recorded a tour-level win prior to this week since the 2017 US Open, now challenges seventh-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is currently second in the ATP Race To Milan for a spot at the Next Gen ATP Finals in November. Auger-Aliassime hit 15 aces to beat Gilles Simon of France 7-5, 6-4 in 90 minutes.
“I try to play match by match,” said Brown. “I try and play my own tennis, aggressive and I know that I am dangerous on this surface, particularly when I come into the net a lot. So far it’s worked very well.”
Zverev double-faulted at 30/40 in the third game of the first set, one of his 14 double faults in the pair’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. While Zverev took a 2-0 lead in the second set, Brown’s courtcraft at 3-5 reaped rewards, but he did not hit a first service into court in the tie-break, which ended with a forehand error.
Having saved three break points at 3-3 in the decider, Brown was inventive in the next game to get Zverev on the move. A forehand volley winner sealed a 5-3 lead and he went on to close out to 15. Brown saved 13 of 14 break points, with Zverev winning 82 per cent of his first-service points and hitting 21 winners.
Last week, both Zverev and World No. 9 Khachanov, who lost to Matteo Berrettini in Stuttgart on Thursday, reached the Roland Garros quarter-finals. Zverev, who captured the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon trophy prior to the clay-court Grand Slam championship in Paris, is now 23-12 on the season.