Zverev Races Into US Open SFs
After saving a set point on the Harris serve in the first-set tie-break, the German took full control of the match, taking the South African’s opening-service games in the second and third sets en route to a 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-4 win.
"He served incredibly in the first set, so I didn't have a lot of chances. I somehow managed to win the first set and that loosened me up a little bit," Zverev said.
Extending his winning streak to 16 matches, the Tokyo Olympics and Cincinnati champion will face the winner of tonight's quarter-final between World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World No. 8 Matteo Berrettini.
Zverev's aggressive, flat returning and heavy rally-ball forehands forced Harris to play deeper behind the baseline that he prefers and limited the South African’s ability to dictate play. The Monte-Carlo resident also continued his strong serving performance this tournament, closing out the match with a 136 mph ace, his 21st of the match.
US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 8, 2021The German will be happy to advance but less pleased with how he closed out the match. Serving at 4-1, 40/0 in the third set, Zverev produced a string of errors to drop serve and was also pushed to deuce in his next service game, escaping with a pair of aces to restore order at 5-3.
Zverev also looked to suffer from minor back discomfort midway through the second set, but his personal physio Hugo Gravil will have two days to get the 24-year-old back to full fitness ahead of the semi-finals.
Zverev has now served 83 aces and just 15 double faults through five matches and today won 82 per cent of first-serve points. He has dropped serve four times this fortnight. At last year’s US Open Zverev hit 10 or more double faults in a match four times.
“The serve is the shot I've spent the most time on, it's the shot that I've got to practise the most,” Zverev said. “At some point I feel like, if you work very hard, you're doing the right things, it will come together. Maybe that's what's happening right now.”
Looking to join Andy Murray (2012) as the only men to win the Olympics and US Open in the same year, Zverev has enjoyed a much more efficient path to the semi-finals this year, dropping just one set (to Jack Sock) in five matches. In 2020, the Hamburg native was pushed to four sets four times en route to the semi-finals. (And he played five-set matches in the semis and final.)
Of his possible semi-final opponents, Zverev trails Djokovic 3-6 in their ATP Head2Head, but did come from a set and a break down at the Olympics to stun the Serbian in their most recent meeting. At the beginning of the season he also pushed Djokovic to 7-6 in the fourth set at the Australian Open and 7-5 in the third at the ATP Cup. Zverev leads Berrettini 3-1 and won their only hard-court meeting in Shanghai in 2019.
Inevitably asked about a possible semi-final showdown against Djokovic, Zverev, said: “Against him you prepare that you have to play the best match that you can. You have to be perfect, otherwise you will not win. Most of the time you can't be perfect. That's why most of the time people lose to him. Against him, you have to win the match yourself. You have to be the one that is dominating the points. You have to do it with very little unforced errors.
World No. 46 Harris, who next Monday will rise to a new career-high FedEx ATP Ranking, won eight matches at the majors this year, after winning a combined two matches at the Slams during the past three years. He has 24 match wins on the season, including a victory over Rafael Nadal at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. during the US Open Series.