French Open: Zverev edges Tiafoe in late-night thriller; Jabeur win over Danilovic
Paris: After four sets of spectacular shotmaking and countless twists and turns, it was Alexander Zverev, who eventually emerged victorious with a 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1, 7-6(5) result against Frances Tiafoe in a thrilling third round French Open clash on late Saturday night, here.
The 22nd-seeded German improved his ATP Head to Head 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. It’s, for sure, a great thing for me right now,” sadi Zverev in his post-match presentation.
For Tiafoe, his best Roland Garros run ended in the third round, with the match finishing after midnight on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
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.
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 breakpoints 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. 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.
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.
Jabeur win over Danilovic
Ons Jabeur of Tunisia came back from a set down to defeat Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 and advance to the Round of 16 at the French Open Grand Slam tournament, here.
Having leveled the match at one set apiece, Jabeur continued her momentum in the final set. She broke Danilovic twice to build a 4-1 lead and did not relinquish her lead from there. She closed out the 2-hour and 12-minute comeback with a forehand flourish to seal the win on Saturday.
“For me, it’s about a great transformation, great transformation of energy, of attitude on the court, of so many things. So hopefully the next step will be even better, and I can approach the second week stronger and ready to play better against lefties,” Jabeur was quoted as saying by the WTA website.
The victory brings Jabeur’s 2023 record on clay to 10-2, having pocketed the bulk of those wins during her title run in Charleston. She is one of four players to split the four biggest clay-court titles, along with No.1 Iga Swiatek (Stuttgart), No.2 Aryna Sabalenka (Madrid), and No.4 Elena Rybakina (Rome).
A junior champion in 2011, Jabeur, will face No.36 Bernarda Pera for a spot in her first Roland Garros quarter final on Monday.
The French Open remains the only Slam where the Tunisian has yet to make it past the Round of 16, having fallen at that stage in 2020 and 2021. The 28-year-old will face Pera for the first time since 2019. Their last meeting came on hard courts at 2019 Guangzhou, with Pera winning 6-4, 6-3.
Pera advanced to her first Round of 16 at a major with a trio of strong wins. After defeating former No.2 Anett Kontaveit in the first round, Pera defeated 22nd-seed Donna Vekic in the second round and Italy’s Elisabetta Cocciaretto in the third round.