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Alexander Zverev Fights Into First Major Quarterfinal In Paris Tennis • Hottest New ATP Star Is Refreshing

Alexander Zverev of Germany celebrates winning against Karen Khachanov of Russia during their men’s round of 16 match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 03 June 2018. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

 

 

By Richard Pagliaro

 

The court-side clock crept past the three-hour mark as pyrotechnic exchanges escalated in the fifth set.

 

Alexander Zverev was too busy coming of age to notice.

 

A daring Zverev staged another spirited comeback conquering Karen Khachanov, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, charging into his first career Grand Slam quarterfinal at Roland Garros.

 

The 21-year-old Zverev scored his third straight five-set comeback triumph becoming the youngest French Open quarterfinalist since Juan Martin del Potro’s run to the last eight at age 20 years, 257 days in 2009.

 

“Well, I’m young, so I might as well stay on court, get some practice and entertain you guys,” Zverev told the crowd afterward. “Me and my brother (Mischa) are guys that spend three, four hours a day in the gym, lifting heavy weights, on the treadmill. It paid off today.”

 

The second-seeded Zverev will face Dominic Thiem or a semifinal spot in a blockbuster rematch of the Mutua Madrid Open final.

 

The titanic-hitting Thiem deconstructed Kei Nishikori, 6-2, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 on Philippe Chatrier Court advancing to his third consecutive Roland Garros quarterfinal.

 

Facing one of the game’s premier returners, Thiem set the tone with imposing serving. The Austrian smacked nine aces, permitted just 10 points on first serve and faced only one break point in a two hour, 28-minute triumph.

 

The Dominator was in full annihilation mode roaring through 12 of the first 14 games against a listless Nishikori, who left the court after the second set.

 

Thiem faltered at 5-6 in the third set, squandering a 30-love lead with a with a double fault and successive forehand errors to face set point. Thiem trampolined a forehand long gifting the break and the third set to the 2014 US Open finalist.

 

The seventh-seeded Thiem shrugged off that lapse overpowering Nishikori in the fourth set.

 

Since his opening round romp over Ricardis Berankis, Zverev has been a major marathon man in Paris rallying from two-sets-to-one down in three successive matches.

 

Prior to this inspired Paris run the knock on Zverev was he struggled in five-setters and shrunk in majors.

 

Times have changed and Zverev is maturing right before our eyes.

 

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, third-round rally over a determined Damir Dzumhur.

 

Empowered by daring shotmaking and an appetite for the fierce fight, Zverev delivered bold serving and his down the line dagger backhand to ignite his second-set comeback today.

 

Belting a backhand down the line followed by his ninth ace, Zverev took a 4-2 tie break lead. On his first set point, Zverev zapped an ace wide to level.

 

Hall of Famer Marat Safin has praised both Zverev and Khachanov as future champions and both possess the jolting power Safin showed winning two Grand Slam crowns.

 

Resetting, Khachanov cracked the Madrid champion’s serve then staved off double break point to consolidate for 3-1. Zverev dumped a double fault donating the break and a 4-1 lead as Khachanov bolted through the third set.

 

Angered by a coaching violation warning, a fired-up Zverev flipped the script in the fourth set. The second seed saved break points for 3-2.

 

In the ensuing game Zverev was hit with a coaching violation warning and complained that this father and coach, Alexander, was on the opposite side of the court questioning how he could receive coaching from that distance. The incident lit a fire of intensity in Zverev who gave the chair umpire a few stare downs as he broke for 4-2.

 

Serving to force the fifth set, Zverev confronted two break points and caught a break when Khachanov’s forehand betrayed him. Three straight forehand errors from the Russian handed the 21-year-old a set point. Zverev thumped an ace wide to force a fifth waving his arms to exhort fans.

 

In full flight Zverev was on the defensive sliding near the doubles alley when he squirted a full-stretch slice backhand down the line to break in the opening game of the decider. Zverev quickly consolidated.

 

Streaming through a love hold for 4-2, Zverev never looked back raising his five-set record to 7-5, continuing his quest to become the first German man since Henner Henkel in 1937 to rule Roland Garros.

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