Alexander Zverev Overcomes Khachanov Scare To Score French Open Milestone - UBITENNIS
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Alexander Zverev Overcomes Khachanov Scare To Score French Open Milestone

The world No.3 has now achieved his best ever run in a grand slam.

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Alexander Zverev (zimbio.com)

Second Seed Alexander Zverev has broken new ground in grand slam tennis after defeating Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open for the first time in his career.

The world No.3 was pushed to his limits by his Russian rival, who was participating in a grand slam main draw for the seventh time in his career. Zverev’s hot and cold display on the court mirrored his other matches earlier on in the tournament, but once again he managed to prevail with clinical ending.  Hitting 17 aces and 63 winners along with 51 unforced errors.

 

“I’m young, so I might as well stay on the court and practice a little bit.” Zverev joked about the length of his matches at Roland Garros.
“Luckily for me this was a best-of-five sets match because I have been two-sets-to-one down every single time and I managed to come back.”

Seeking revenge for a straight sets loss to the German in 2016, Khachanov got off to the perfect start by breaking immediately. Although the lead didn’t last for long as his rival battled back to draw level during the roller-coaster clash. With both players having a dominant serve, the biggest factor for both of them concerned their mental strength. As Kachanov moved to a 5-4 lead on serve, Zverev succumbed. Hitting a backhand into the net on set point.

A change in momentum occurred during the second set after a 16-point run in Zverev’s favour. Placing him in a prime position to level the proceedings. However, once again the German came undone as Khachanov battled back to level 5-5 before forcing a tiebreak. It wasn’t until the tiebreaker where Zverev illustrated why he is a three-time Masters 1000 champion. Displaying great athletic ability for a player of 6”6’ to regain the advantage and eventually close the set out.

The effort invested by Zverev to level up appeared to have taken its toll on him. Once again, it was Khachanov who went back into the lead as he dominated the third set. Claiming 31 out of the 50 points played with the help of a double break in his favour. Sparking alarm bells in the Zverev camp.

The comeback

Ironically the turning point in the match was triggered by a warning issued to the 21-year-old by the umpire. Midway through the fourth frame he was handed a code violation for coaching. Bemused by the situation, the fired-up German channeled it into a resurgence on the court as he went on to claimed three out of the next four games to force a decider.

Avoiding the scare and another heartbreaking loss in a major, Zverev held his nerve to cross the finish line. It was just a sole break at the start of the decider that sealed the outcome of the match. On his first match point, the German was triumphant after a Khachanov forehand slammed into the net.

“This has definitely paid off, all the hours in the gym.” The second seed said after the match. “ Me and my brother (Mischa), we spend about 3-4 hours in the gym every day. Lifting heavy weights, running, doing treadmill stuff. So, this all pays off and this is the reason why we do it. I’m unbelievably happy to have a team that I have.”

At the age of 21, Zverev is the youngest French Open quarter-finalist in the men’s draw for nine years. This month is his 15th appearance in the main draw of a major.

“I’m really happy to be here in the quarter-finals, but the draw doesn’t get easier and I have to prepare myself as best as I can and see how it goes in the next few days.” He said.

Zverev will take on Dominic Thiem in the last eight in what will be a repeat of this year’s Madrid Open final. On that occasion he prevailed in straight sets.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Frances Tiafoe And Jack Sock Ready To Rain On Federer’s Parade At Laver Cup

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Frances Tiafoe describes his first match at this year’s Laver Cup as ‘iconic’ but he is determined to seal victory with doubles partner Jack Sock. 

 

Tiafoe, who reached the semi-finals of the US Open earlier this month, will feature in what will be the final match of Roger Federer’s illustrious career. The Swiss maestro has announced that the team competition will be the last event he will play before retiring from the sport at the age of 41. Federer will partner up with long-time rival Rafael Nadal in what promises to be an emotional encounter for all involved on Friday evening. 

“It’s going to be iconic to be part of that,” Tiafoe told reporters in London. “Both guys are absolute legends, and obviously Roger’s last dance. We are definitely just out there trying to get a win.”

Looking at the wider picture, Tiafoe knows a win in the doubles could prove vital in team World’s bid to win the Laver Cup for the first time in history. Whilst on paper his achievements are overshadowed by those he faces, his current form gives him the edge. Federer hasn’t played a match since Wimbledon last year due to a knee injury. Furthermore, Nadal is still trying to get back to his best shape following an abdominal injury and was beaten by Tiafoe at the US Open. 

“This is a special night. I just think me and Jack are just looking for a special night, come out there, have fun,” he continued. “The crowd is obviously going to be for them. You understand that kind of moment, and just go out there and do your part and just try to get a win. It’s going to be a special night tomorrow. I’m just happy I get the opportunity to do it with Jack.”

Sock, who has won three Grand Slam titles during his career, echoes Tiafoe’s desire to seal victory over the two tennis giants. 

“I’m just stoked to be a part of it with my guy Foe (Tiafoe),” he said. 
“We will go out and enjoy the moment, but not going to hold anything back. Sorry, Roger. Don’t want to spoil the night.”

Federer’s final match at The O2 Arena in London is set to take place in front of a sellout crowd. Following his retirement announcement, ticket sales for the three-day event have exploded. Ace Odds have reported a 4020% rise in demand for tickets with prices starting from £900. An extraordinary outcome considering the most expensive ticket for the Laver Cup was originally £510. 

The doubles match involving Federer, Nadal, Tiafoe and Sock is estimated to start around 20:20 BST on Friday. 

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