Alexander Zverev shouts out his joy
Photo: Adam Hunger / AP
Alexander Zverev made his round of 50 at the US Open perfect. 26 minutes before midnight (local time), the best German tennis player threw the ball high in the direction of the floodlights and enjoyed the cheers of the fans in the Louis Armstrong Stadium. With great fighting spirit and superior fitness, the 3-year-old defeated Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 42-6 (7-2), 7-7 (6-10), 8-6, 1-6 in 1:2 hours late on Saturday evening. After losing the first set, Zverev was already 4-<> down in the second round, but made a comeback.
"It was an incredibly high level, we killed each other in the first two sets," said Zverev in the winner's interview on the court. "At the end of the second set, I was also a bit lucky. He has hit equally incredible balls. He was a little tired and a little hurt."
Wawrinka retired, difficult tournament tree for Zverev
At the Grand Slam tournament in New York, the 26-year-old from Hamburg now meets the Italian Jannik Sinner. The world number six prevailed in four sets against former US Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka from Switzerland, who had previously become the oldest player in 31 years to win a match at the Grand Slam tournament.
The path to the hoped-for second US Open final after 2020 is difficult: With another success, Zverev could face Spanish defending champion Carlos Alcaraz from Spain in the quarterfinals.
Starting difficulties against the favorite opponent
Zverev had won the past five duels with Dimitrov, this year at the French Open and at the US Open dress rehearsal in Cincinnati he even dominated the Bulgarian. Now the twelfth in the world rankings was only able to show his superiority after two sets and almost two and a half hours - also because Dimitrov was visibly injured and was treated on his knee.
Zverev started more aggressively than in the long weak performance in the German second-round duel with Daniel Altmaier. He quickly volleyed Dimitrov's serve to make it 2-1, but Zverev conceded the re-break directly due to slight mistakes of his own.
It developed into a game at the highest level. Towards the end of the first set, Dimitrov managed almost everything. Zverev often went to the net, but always looked after his opponent's perfect passing balls.
The Hamburg native seemed perplexed, in the tie-break he received a warning because he needed longer than the allowed 25 seconds to serve. The first five points went to Dimitrov, who secured the opening set a little later with a strong first serve. After 70 minutes, Zverev looked soberly at his annex with father and coach Alexander Zverev senior and girlfriend Sophia Thomalla in the stands.
Dimitrov's knee problems turn the game around
Initially, however, the favorites still lacked the means against the Bulgarian's counter-attack. Zverev conceded another break, slipped away once and lay on the ground. He quickly pulled himself back up – which was also a symbol of the match. After a successful ball, he asked the audience to cheer, with the support of the fans in the second largest stadium at the US Open, Zverev came back into the game.
Another warning from the referee only spurred on the former world number two. In the tie-break, Zverev fended off two set points from his opponent with strong serves, with a placed return he won the second round. With his mouth wide open, Zverev roared his joy out to his followers in the first two rows on the sidelines.
Dimitrov, who was six years older, was able to see the strains after two and a half hours, the world number 19. breathed heavily between rallies. Zverev kept the pressure up right away, made two early breaks to make it 3-0. Dimitrov's resistance was broken, after only 28 minutes Zverev won the third round.
Dimitrov underwent treatment on his left knee, went to the dressing room, came back to the pitch jogging. Zverev remained unimpressed, played his game superiorly and was happy in the end.