"I'm in the semi-finals of Roland Garros and I'm very happy! As I said before, last year was the hardest of my life. That's why I'm so happy to be back. I'm coming back on Friday (for his semi-final) and I couldn't be happier," said the 26-year-old German.
He has thus qualified for his third semi-final in a row at Roland-Garros and will face for a place in the final, which would be his first in a Major since the US Open 2020, the Danish prodigy Holger Rune (6th) or the finalist of last year, the Norwegian Casper Ruud (4th), who face each other in the evening.
These 2023 France Internationals allow Zverev to relive on the circuit: a year ago, he left the Philippe-Chatrier court leaning on crutches, victim of a tear of the ligaments of the right ankle while he led the hard life to Rafael Nadal, two days before the 14th coronation of the Spaniard.
The injury kept him out of the loop for the rest of the 2022 season and he had yet to string up four straight tournament wins since returning in early 2023.
At Roland-Garros, he is at five, series to follow. Before facing Etcheverry on Wednesday, he had also not lost a set of the tournament.
In the first set, Zverev broke to lead 4-3 and quietly held his serve until the end.
In the second, he committed faults that allowed his opponent to regain confidence, like this completely missed smash that concluded a service game that he had started with two double faults in a row and that allowed Etcheverry to break 5-3 and serve to tie at a set everywhere, which he did not fail to do.
Germany's Alexander Zverev has just returned to the semifinals at Roland-Garros by beating Argentina's Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the quarterfinals on June 7, 2023 in Paris © Thomas SAMSON / AFP
Zverev then started the third set very badly by committing five direct faults in as many points played, which allowed the Argentine to make the break of entry.
But at 2-0 for his opponent, the German managed a five-game run to lead 5-2. He gave himself three set balls in a row on the opponent's serve, but Etcheverry scored the next five points to force Zverev to serve for the win of the set. Which he did.
The fourth set quickly turned in the German's favour: after saving two break balls at 1-2, it was he who managed the break to lead 4-3. He still had to save two break balls before confirming his 5-3 advantage.
Relying on a very big first service ball, three aces in four points, Etcheverry forced Zverev to serve for the match. A final game that took place in a very hot -- but very good -- atmosphere, the audience chanting "Tomas! Tomas!"
The 23-year-old Argentine had never gone beyond the second round of a Grand Slam, reached in January in Australia.
In Paris, after benefiting in the first round from the abandonment in the second set of Jack Draper (55th), Etcheverry lined up victories of choice against Alex De Minaur (19th), Borna Coric (16th) and Yoshihito Nishioka (33rd) without losing a set to reach the quarters.
"He's playing incredibly well and he reminds me of Del Potro (Juan Martin, Argentine, twice semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2009 and 2018). He will often come back in the quarterfinals here, that's for sure," Zverev predicted.
© 2023 AFP