Zverev Returns To Roland Garros QF

German to face Djokovic for place in SF

Alexander Zverev says he's been enjoying playing without a spotlight on him this fortnight at Roland Garros. The Big Three – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – along with reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas have garnered much of the attention thus far at the season's second Grand Slam.

But that's all about to change for Zverev. The 22-year-old German returned to the Roland Garros quarter-finals on Monday, matching his best showing at a Slam by beating Italy's Fabio Fognini 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(5).

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I didn't start well and he did. He played very aggressive, hitting the ball very hard, which made it difficult,” Zverev said. “But then after first set, I played three very good sets, very solid from my part. And I'm happy to be in the quarter-finals.”

The 11-time ATP Tour titlist hit 34 winners and defended his serve well, especially in the fourth set, erasing both break points faced and taking advantage of the mini-break Fognini handed him in the tie-break at 2/3 by double faulting.

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For the match, Zverev saved seven of nine break points against Fognini, who also was seeking his second Grand Slam quarter-final. It is Zverev's first Top 25 win at a Grand Slam, and he has now won eight matches in a row, dating back to his Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open title on 25 May.

“Geneva is where it started,” Zverev said.

For years, Zverev has been touted as one of the leaders of the #NextGenATP and one of the favourites to top the ATP Rankings in the near future. But this year, with the rise Tsitsipas, Zverev said he has been feeling out of the spotlight, for which he's glad.

The best thing that could have happened for me is how good Tsitsipas' clay-court season was... I actually do believe that. I'm happy for him,” Zverev said of the Greek, who won the Estoril title and reached the Madrid final. “But, as I said, he was kind of the new superstar all of a sudden. And for me, it was actually quite a nice thing that not all of the attention of the NextGen is only going towards my way.”

The German, who had won two of his first three matches in five sets, skipped the decider on Monday, and he'll be glad to have conserved energy for his quarter-final. Zverev will next face No. 1 and 2016 champion Novak Djokovic, whom Zverev beat to win the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 in London.

The two split their four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, but Zverev won their only clay-court contest in the 2017 Internazional BNL d'Italia final in Rome for his first ATP Masters 1000 title.

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