Match Report

Zverev Edges Tiafoe In Late-Night Roland Garros Thriller

German next faces 28th seed Dimitrov for quarter-final place
June 03, 2023
Alexander Zverev on his way to a return to the second week at Roland Garros.
Peter Staples for ATP Tour
Alexander Zverev on his way to a return to the second week at Roland Garros. By ATP Staff

The most gripping match of the Saturday slate at Roland Garros was saved for last, with Alexander Zverev and Frances Tiafoe thrilling the night-session crowd for three hours, 41 minutes in a hugely entertaining encounter. After four sets of spectacular shotmaking and countless twists and turns, Zverev emerged victorious with a 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1, 7-6(5) result.

The 22nd-seeded German improved his ATP Head2Head record against Tiafoe to 7-1 with the win. By beating the American in the pair's first clay-court meeting, Zverev advanced to the Roland Garros fourth round for the sixth straight year and continued his chase for a third straight Paris semi-final.

"I'm happy to be through. I'm happy to be in the fourth round and be in the second week of a Grand Slam," Zverev said in his post-match presser. "It's, for sure, a great thing for me right now."

For Tiafoe, his best Roland Garros run ended in the third round, with the match finishing after midnight on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

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Zverev, whose 2022 Roland Garros campaign ended in agony when he injured his ankle midway through his semi-final against Rafael Nadal, showed glimpses of the form that helped him challenge the Spaniard in that epic match one year ago. While Zverev's game ebbed and flowed against Tiafoe, he held firm in the two tie-breaks either side of a dominant third set.

"I know what happened last year," the 26-year-old said of the injury. "It was emotional for me to step on that court for the first time when I played [Alex] Molcan, I'm not going to lie. But now I'm here to play some of the best players in the world, and today was definitely the case in that."

Both Zverev and Tiafoe did damage on both attack and defence in a match filled with cat-and-mouse points, with both uncorking sublime passing shots and each winning their share of delicate duels in the frontcourt. It was a gripping contest that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats with both the tight scoreline and the varied shotmaking that put power, precision and touch on display in equal measures.

Zverev, who hit 13 aces and 10 double faults in the victory, cashed in on five of his 14 break points while Tiafoe converted five of his 10 break chances in a topsy-turvy encounter. The last break came with Tiafoe serving to force a fifth set at 5-3 in the fourth, as Zverev snapped back after losing his own serve in the previous game.

A warm embrace at the net was a fitting end to a monumental match that could spark another deep run for Zverev.

Next up for the German is a meeting with 28th seed Grigor Dimitrov on Monday. The Bulgarian advanced with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 win against Daniel Altmaier earlier in the evening on Court Simonne-Mathieu. Both Dimitrov and Altmaier were bidding to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros for the second time after previous runs to that stage in 2020. 

Dimitrov's win puts him through to the second week at a Grand Slam for the first time since he reached the 2021 Australian Open quarter-finals. The Bulgarian has reached the semi-finals once at each major other than Roland Garros.

The winner between Zverev and Dimitrov will face 27th seed Yoshihito Nishioka or Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the quarter-finals in a wide-open section of the draw.

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