Alexander Zverev feared his tie with Adrian Mannarino may not go ahead on Friday due to COVID-19 protocols but the German secured a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win in a match delayed almost three hours due to talks between organisers and New York health officials.
The US Open third-round clash was originally scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. local time on Louis Armstrong Stadium but was pushed back while the United States Tennis Association conducted “collaborative dialogue” with health officials.
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“I was told there is very little chance that we were going to play,” Zverev said courtside after the match. “The New York State called and said he (Mannarino) shouldn't play
“So it was back and forth, back and forth ... it was political, not about us players,” he added.
Mannarino was placed under an “enhanced protocol plan” after coming in contact with fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire, who pulled out of the tournament having tested positive for COVID-19.
When the players finally arrived on court at 5:15 p.m., Mannarino claimed the opening set in a tie-break as an untidy Zverev posted 26 unforced errors.
“It's also different because we were supposed to play during the warmest time of the day, with our rackets a bit tighter, prepared for the ball flying a bit more,” said world number seven Zverev.
“But then we came out here and played basically a night match.”
The German rediscovered his rhythm in the second set to find a way past Mannarino's serve in the 10th game, unleashing a blistering forehand winner to get to one set apiece.
With momentum on his side, Zverev converted a further five break points opportunities to book a last-16 spot for the second consecutive year in New York.
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Zverev will next face Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who defeated Britain's Cameron Norrie 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.
- Shapovalov wins battle of young guns -
Denis Shapovalov won the battle of North American young guns by grinding out a 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 win over Taylor Fritz to move into the fourth round.
The match played out exactly as one would expect from two of tennis's rising talents with the 12th-seeded Canadian Shapovalov and 19th seeded American Fritz engaged in a seesaw tussle.
The entertaining three and a half hour match in an empty Arthur Ashe stadium ended with Shapovalov back in the last 16 at Flushing Meadows for the first time since he made his US Open debut in 2017.
From their nearly identical Nike kit to their resumes Fritz and Shapovalov bear are remarkable resemblance. Shapovalov is 21-years-old and seeded 12th while Fritz is 22 and seeded 19th.
Fritz was named ATP Tour newcomer of the year in 2016 with Shapovalov claiming the honour in 2017. Both won their one and only ATP titles in 2019.
Their games, however, are different. Fritz the big server works from the baseline while Shapovalov can serve and volley unafraid to come to the net.
But in the decisive fifth set it was the Canadian's serve that made an impact Shapovalov laying down seven aces to just one from Fritz.
“I was struggling serving because he was putting his racket on everything and he was playing so solid,” said Shapovalov, who has taken the long route to the last 16 with his opening two matches going four sets. “In the fourth set when I was down a break I was able to loosen up and got the rhythm back on my serve.
“I was really happy with the way I served especially that last set,” he added.
Fritz had a chance to serve out the match at 5-3 in the fourth but Shapovalov grabbed the break he needed to drag the set to a tie-break which he won.
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Recharged by his rally, it was the Canadian who raced ahead 3-0 in the fifth before closing out the contest with another break when Fritz's return sailed long.
Next up for Shapovalov is Belgium seventh seed David Goffin who beat Filip Krajinovic.
- Goffin passes Krajinovic test -
Seventh seed David Goffin was made to work hard by Serbian Filip Krajinovic before he clinched a 6-1, 7-6(5), 6-4 win to move into the fourth round for the fourth consecutive year at Flushing Meadows.
The Belgian stormed out of the blocks to convert three break point opportunities in the opening set as Krajinovic struggled for control on his second serve.
Both players converted two break points each in a seesaw second set before Goffin edged the tiebreak to claim a two-set advantage.
After taking an early lead in the third set, Goffin was again pegged back by 26th seed Krajinovic but the world number 10 prevailed with a decisive break in the 10th game to seal victory in just over two hours.