Zverev battles past Khachanov into quarters

Alexander Zverev

No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev had to come through his second successive five-set match to get past Karen Khachanov and reach the quarter-finals at Roland Garros.

The 21-year-old German defeated his unseeded Russian opponent 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-3 6-3 in Paris after an absorbing three-hour-and-29-minute battle.

Zverev moves on to face seventh seed Dominic Thiem, who beat Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-2 6-0 5-7 6-4 on Sunday to book his place in the next round.

A break for Zverev in the very first game of the match might have lulled him into thinking the contest against Khachanov would be an easy one, but in reality he was in for a gruelling test.

The Russian broke back immediately, and then saved three break points at 4-4 before going on to earn three break points of his own in the next game, clinching the third after a mini tantrum from his rattled opponent to take the first set.

The second set was another struggle for Zverev, who had three set points while serving at 5-4 only for Khachanov to save them all and get the break a few points later.

Luckily for Zverev, he was able to edge the tie-break and level the scores at a set apiece, but Khachanov hit back strongly in the third set, taking it with ease after successive breaks midway through to leave his opponent in trouble.

It needed a strong response from Zverev and he delivered, clinching a decisive break in the sixth game of the fourth set to force a decider – despite a moment of controversy when he was given a code violation for being coached from the stands by his father Alexander Sr.

Zverev did not waiver in the fifth set either, taking control with an early break and wrapping up the match on Khachanov’s serve several games later before falling to his knees in celebration.

Zverev certainly has lived a charmed life in Paris this week. He was also taken to five sets by Dusan Lajovic in the second round and saved match point against Damir Dzumhur in the third, but getting through is all that matters to him.

“I’m young, so I might as well stay on court and practise a little bit,” said Zverev. “It’s the best, a five-set match.

“I’ve been down 2-1 every single time but I’m unbelievably happy to be into the quarter-finals. All the hours in the gym have paid off.”

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