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By Ricky Dimon


Finally, Alexander Zverev’s winning streak is over. The summer of Sascha….


The champion in both Washington, D.C. and Montreal, Zverev saw his run of 10 consecutive match victories come to an end when he lost to Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in round two of the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday afternoon. Playing three days after capturing the Montreal title, Zverev double-faulted seven times and bowed out of his Cincinnati opener after one hour and 56 minutes.


Frances Tiafoe of the US in action against Alexander Zverev of Germany during their match in the Western & Southern Open at the Linder Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, 16 August 2017. EPA/TANNEN MAURY

“(My) strategy was just keep him out there,” Tiafoe explained. “He has to be tired. He’s played a tough couple of weeks; tough matches–a lot of night matches, too.”


“I was just, like, ‘If I can keep the rallies long and just keep making balls, just run down a lot of balls and keep making him play an extra ball, even if I barely get it over the net, just keeping the balls in.’ And he was getting pretty frustrated. There were times where he acted like he [would go away], and (then) he would step up. It was a roller-coaster match. I was happy to get it over the line.”


And although Zverev was obviously fatigued, Tiafoe played his part in the upset. The 19-year-old American blasted big returns on a consistent basis, winning an awesome 29 of 42 second-serve return points and breaking the seventh-ranked German six times. It was a break to 15 at 5-4 in the third set that ended the match in style.


And it was a much-needed result for Tiafoe, who is inside the top 100 thanks to Challenger success but had been 5-24 lifetime at the ATP level prior to this week.


“These are wins that definitely can change your career the right way,” he assured. “This is a big relief for me. We grew up together playing junior Grand Slams, playing Under-12s, Under-14s. I have known him for forever. Seeing him rise like that, I was, like, ‘Maybe I can do the same.’ Then he beat me twice, and I was, like, ‘All right, maybe I can’t.’ So me beating him today made me feel pretty good.”


Fellow up-and-coming American Jared Donaldson is already a mainstay on the main tour and his fine form is continuing in Cincinnati. Donaldson, who is 60th in the rankings at 20 years old, defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. He is now through to the third round of a third consecutive event (previously in Washington, D.C. and Montreal).


Tiafoe and Donaldson are joined in the last 16 by Juan Martin Del Potro, Nick Kyrgios, David Ferrer, and Pablo Carreno Busta, among others.


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.