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French Open Tennis 2018 • Zverev Survives, But Dimitrov Succumbs in Paris • ATP Men’s Reviews

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria plays Fernando Verdasco of Spain during their men’s third round match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 01 June 2018. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

 

 

By Richard Pagliario

 

Grand Slam fifth sets took Alexander Zverev to painful places in the past.

 

Staring down a match point in the final set today, Zverev was in no mood for more major scar tissue.

 

A defiant Zverev denied match point at 4-5 in the decider igniting a fierce 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5, comeback triumph over a determined Damir Dzumhur to reach the French Open fourth round for the first time.

 

“It was a very tight match, so it’s never that there’s not a lot of nerves involved in that moment,” Zverev told the media afterward. “It’s all about finding a way to win. Even if you’re not playing your best finding the right solution in the right moment.”

 

Alexander Zverev of Germany plays Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina during their men’s third round match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 01 June 2018. EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT

The lengthy embrace the pair shared after this three hour, 54-minute duel amplified both a shared mutual respect and the magnitude of this victory for the 21-year-old German.

 

The second seed endured major stress—including Dzumhur serving for the match at 6-5 in the fourth set—but kept calm reaching a milestone moment.

 

It was Zverev’s 150th Tour-level victory as he raised his 2018 record to an ATP-best 33-8.

 

In both his five-set setback to Hyeon Chung at the Australian Open in January and a five-set loss to Milos Raonic at Wimbledon last July, a depleted Zverev looked like he ran out of gas.

 

Today, Zverev found a higher gear when he needed it most earning his first career Top 50 win in a Grand Slam tournament and second straight five-set conquest following his five-set victory over Dusan Lajovic in the second round.

 

Continuing his quest to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, Zverev will play either 15th-seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille or explosive Russian Karen Khachanov in the fourth round.

 

While the second seed survived, fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov succumbed in the third round.

 

Firing his lefty forehand with vicious intent, Fernando Verdasco deconstructed Dimitrov, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4, charging into his seventh French Open fourth round.

 

Stepping up closer to the baseline to redirect the 6’6″ German’s bigger baseline blasts, Dzumhur turned the match around.

 

The 26-year-old Bosnian is quick around the court and possesses soft hands. Dzumhur applied both assets shrewdly.

 

Showing his court craft, Dzumhur, muted Zverev’s superior power and exploited the 21-year-old German’s transition game and net movement playing off-pace, low balls into the service box creating awkward replies.

 

Tormenting the big man with the drop shot, Dzumhur won 30 of 38 trips to net compared to 29 of 67 net points for Zverev, who was often dragged forward chasing droppers.

 

Serving for the fourth round at 6-5, Dzumhur saw the finish line in sight and was staggered by nerves.

 

A jittery 90-second serve game ended with Dzumhur slapping a shot into net donating the break at love and bringing on the tie break.

 

“It was really a special, special moment,” Dzumhur said of the battle. “I felt the whole energy from the crowd. Unfortunately, I had chances didn’t use it. I’m pretty sure I will take more from this loss than any of the other losses.”

 

New life pumped new attitude into Zverev.

 

Thumping shots more vigorously, Zverev reeled off five straight points for 5-1.

 

Sticking a forehand down the line inside the sideline, Zverev took the fourth-set tiebreak to force the final set after two hours, 53 minutes.

 

Showing his creativity under severe pressure, Dzumhur pulled off a surprise serve-and-half volley play then used another drop shot to deny break point standing tall for 5-4.

 

Staring down match point at 30-40, Zverev kicked a shoulder-high serve out wide to save it. Withstanding the stress test, Zverev held to level after 10 games.

 

Increasingly, each Dzumhur service game became a war of attrition. Reading the drop shot, Zverev burst up to the ball quickly, sliced a deep backhand reply then used every each of his expansive reach to knock off the volley.

 

That eruption gave Zverev the break and a 6-5 lead. A flat backhand down line coaxed a running forehand for match point.

 

When Dzumhur sailed one final forehand, Zverev was through to his first French Open fourth round throwing one more uppercut in the air to celebrate.

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