Zverev: ‘Knowing that I’m fit enough to last as long as I want’

FROM ROLAND GARROS — Alexander Zverev has had two very long matches and he won two very long five setters. He hung in there. While he was mentally up and down, but still, he stood in there, and it was super close. When he gets the opportunity, he would goes for it, win or lose, which is one of his great strengths.

He beat Damir Dzumhur, but in the fifth set, he was very shaky. He missed a ton of balls, but he didn’t back off. He didn’t serve that well, his forehand was spotty and he rarely put away shots at the net. I mean — game after game — he was disappointing. But the good thing is he kept battling, and when you are not playing well at all, you still have to find away. Right at the end, he nailed two terrific forehands. He survived, barely, winning it 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 7-5. Will he be exhausted in the next match in Sunday, or will he be just fine?

“I think it was important to kind of see for myself that I can win back-to-back five-set matches and both very difficult physical matches,” he said. “I was feeling fine physically, so for me that gives me a lot of confidence going deep into the fifth set, going long matches on this kind of surface. And knowing that I’m fit enough to last as long as I want. So, this gives me a lot of confidence, of course, and I think it was an important point to prove to myself, as well.”

Madison Keys was pretty happy on Friday, besting Naomi Osaka 6-1, 7-6. She bashed the ball in the first set, but in the second set, the Japanese started to change it up and then jump on her oportunities. Both of them have big serves, and they can muscle the backhands and the forehands. American Keys has struggled this season as she gets hurt frequently, but at least she is healthy in Paris this week. Maybe she can push into the quarters. It won’t be easy, because as she says, she doesn’t totally understand clay, but each year, it is getting better, but slowly.    

 “I think I have been, you know, knock on wood, haven’t had any left wrist pain since surgery last year, and being away from the court made me remember how much I really love the sport and how much I love being out there,” she said. “So, I feel like, for the most part, all of my matches I’m playing a little bit more calm just because I’m remembering it’s not life or death and really just enjoying my time out there.
That was a very good victory by Fernando Verdasco, beating Grigor Dimitrov 7-6, 6-2, 6-4. Two days ago, the No. 5 Dimitrov won a marathon. He won over American Jared Donaldson, but it was more than four hours so Dimitov’s legs were sore. You could see he was a little bit slow today. Still, the Spaniard Verdasco knows how to muscle him, and play smarter. He has to face Novak Djokovic, which will be very exciting match-up.

Don’t tell me again that Elina Svitolina lost in a majors. She just won Rome. It looked like that if she continues to play fantastic, that she could go all the way. But once again, she folded. As she has said, it is all about her head.

Kei Nishikori won pretty easy today. He is playing smart ball, but now he has to go up against Dominic Thiem. Without a doubt, it will be three hours, and for Nishikori, he needs to push him back way far. … Caro Wozniacki might actually reach the quarters, if she manages to wear down a very good player in Daria Kasatkina. It won’t be easy for either of them.

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