Zverev Completes Comeback Against Fritz
Alexander Zverev fell behind two sets to one on Thursday in his third-round match against #NextGenATP American Taylor Fritz when play was suspended due to darkness at Wimbledon. What onlookers didn't know is that the German was dealing with a stomach virus, and vomited in the bathroom after the second set.
But the fourth seed returned on Friday to earn his fourth two-sets-to-one comeback in a two-Grand Slam span, battling illness and opponent to beat Fritz 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(0), 6-1, 6-2 at the All England Club.
"I had stomach pain the whole match... I had to throw up. The night over, I didn't really eat anything. It was tough for me yesterday," Zverev said. "Today in the warm-up I was actually maybe thinking about it, not to play at all. I was very low energy. I didn't eat anything since yesterday. But then I thought, 'Well, if I don't feel well, it's going to be one set. If I feel better, it might be two'. [I] thought I'd go out there and try. Actually, the adrenaline pumped in. I felt great out there."
At Roland Garros, the German became the eighth player in the Open Era to battle through three consecutive five-setters in Paris. And now, he has won five five-setters in a row after beginning his career 3-5.
"The difference between now and a year ago, probably a little longer ago, is that when I'm down two sets to one or something like that, I don't really panic. I'm very calm. I try to find ways to win. I think that's a very big difference," Zverev said. "If you don't get better, you stay the same. For me, I will try to find ways to get better for the next 15 years hopefully."
Zverev, who captured his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title earlier this year at the Mutua Madrid Open, is at a career-best No. 3 in the ATP Rankings, and is trying to best his deepest run at the All England Club, which came when he advanced to the Round of 16 last year.
But for a while, it looked like those prospects were in jeopardy. An aggressive Fritz put constant pressure on Zverev, who appeared content to remain behind the baseline, blitzing through the third-set tie-break to take a two-sets-to-one lead when play was stopped for the night on Thursday. The tide turned upon resumption Friday, though.
Fritz landed just 31 per cent of first serves in the fourth set, forcing him to go for more from a less advantageous position in the court, leading to a litany of errors by the American. And that was the only opening Zverev needed, consistently testing the World No. 68's lateral movement rather than allowing him to dictate with his forehand from the middle of the court. Zverev broke four times from 12 opportunities in the final two sets to finish off the victory in three hours, 12 minutes.
"[I was] seeing the ball big. I was returning much better, because it was brighter," Zverev said. "From the baseline, I was hitting it big. Maybe rushed him a little bit more. Didn't give him as much time."
The fourth seed will next play former World No. 10 Ernests Gulbis, who defeated No. 27 seed Damir Dzumhur 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3. The Latvian advances to the third round at the All England Club for the second consecutive year, and he has a plethora of experience, competing in his 41st major main draw. Gulbis reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2014 and the quarter-finals in 2008.
Zverev has never lost to a player as low as Gulbis, World No. 138, in the ATP Rankings at a Grand Slam. The German's last defeat against someone ranked lower was in the 2016 Gerry Weber Open final, when he fell against then-No. 192 Florian Mayer.
"It's going to be a fun match. He's been struggling a little bit. I hope he can get back very soon. He's playing great again. He won five matches here with the quallies. I wish him nothing but the best," Zverev said. "But tomorrow, I'll try my best to win."