Marathon Man Zverev Outlasts Tiafoe In Five
When a match goes the distance at a Grand Slam, Alexander Zverev is perhaps the last player an opponent wants to see across the net. After prevailing in a five-setter on Tuesday over Moldovan Radu Albot, the sixth-seeded German cemented his marathon man status on Thursday with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 victory over #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe to reach the third round.
Zverev moved to 12-5 in fifth-set matches and has won nine of his past 10 Grand Slam matches that reached a decider. Meanwhile, Tiafoe dropped to 1-7 in five-set matches, including first-round defeats this year at Roland Garros (l. to Krajinovic) and Wimbledon (l. to Fognini). The German is now 4-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Tiafoe.
A sluggish start for Tiafoe saw Zverev take the first 10 points of the match, including a break to love in the second game. But Tiafoe turned it around in the second set after Zverev, who has struggled with his serve in recent weeks, threw in a double fault to give the American a 4-2 lead. The slight advantage was all Tiafoe needed to even the match.
In a mirror image of the opening set, Zverev started the third set with an immediate break of Tiafoe’s serve. The German continued to produce his best tennis of the match, firing 15 winners to only nine unforced errors en route to a commanding advantage. Tiafoe refused to go away quietly, though, breaking Zverev twice in the fourth set to force a decider.
Zverev ripped a down-the-line backhand for a 2-0 lead in the final set and looked like he had another five sets of tennis left in him. Meanwhile, Tiafoe stopped sitting down at changeovers and received medical treatment on his right shoulder at 2-5 in the fifth set. The German continued to ride the momentum and a forehand long from Tiafoe ended the match after three hours and nine minutes, with both men embracing at the net afterwards.
Awaiting Zverev is Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, who scored his best result in New York by rallying to defeat No. 29 seed Benoit Paire of France 4-6, 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-5, 7-6(4). The 30-year-old is riding a seven-match win streak after prevailing earlier this month on home soil at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Portoroz. Zverev leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-0, including a straight-sets victory this year at the Australian Open.
Argentine Diego Schwartzman needed just one hour and 38 minutes to cruise past Belarusian qualifier Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 6-2, 6-0. The No. 20 seed won the last eight games of the match and only dropped seven points in the third set. He now faces American Tennys Sandgren, who reached the third round in New York for the first time with a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 win over Canadian Vasek Pospisil.