Despite Service Yips, Zverev Reaches Montreal QFs
Two weeks ago, Nikoloz Basilashvili saved two match points to oust Alexander Zverev in a third-set tie-break on the clay courts of Hamburg. On Friday, the third-seeded German turned the tables on the hard courts of Montreal, surviving 14 double faults and Basilashvili’s aggressive baseline play to prevail 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(5) at the Coupe Rogers.
Zverev fell to the ground in jubilation after picking up the win in two hours and 45 minutes, signifying how much the moment meant in what has been a challenging year for the 2017 champion (d. Federer). He arrived on Court Banque Nationale with a 29-15 record in 2019 and a title in Geneva (d. Jarry), but only one Top 20 win to his name this season, compared to eight at this time last year.
The magnitude of the occasion was not lost on Zverev and perhaps contributed to uncharacteristic difficulties on serve. The German hit three double faults when attempting to serve out the opening set at 5-4 and eight more throughout the second set. But while Zverev’s serve didn’t do him any favours, he was rock solid from the baseline. He saved 13 of 18 break points and came out on top in most of the grueling baseline rallies.
Zverev overcame a wild double fault early in the third-set tie-break to take a 4/2 lead, but gave away the mini-break advantage with a second serve that nearly clipped the baseline. At 5/4, Basilashvili missed just wide on a forehand to even the score. Two points later, a forehand sent long by the Georgian wrapped up their epic encounter and gave Zverev a 2-1 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.
Awaiting Zverev in the quarter-finals is sixth-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov, who crashed #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime’s 19th birthday party with a three-set win earlier in the day. Khachanov joins Daniil Medvedev in the last eight, marking the first time that two Russians have reached the quarter-finals in Canada since 2000 (Kafelnikov and Safin).