Zverev gets through three five-setters to make quarters

Alexander Zverev fought through his third-five setter in a row to make his first grand slam quarterfinal. Both Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys won their matches to set up a meeting in the quarters, while Goffin went out in a shock loss and Djokovic and Thiem also win.

Alexander Zverev has been a beast throughout the French Open tournament, battling through three five-setters in a row without showing any signs of slowing down. He willed himself with gladiatorial “come ons” and even “This is my time!” in his set against young sensation Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

The 21-year-old has been training with Andy Murray’s conditioner Jez Green, and the extra gym work has turned the German wunderkid into the legitimate heir to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. His push into the quarterfinals at Roland Garros is his best performance at a grand slam to date.

But don’t think he’s all intensity and seriousness. He’s been relaxing under the pressure, as evidenced by the hilarious exchanges between him and a certain journalist from Yorkshire.

“I know who I am. It’s not about learning any more. It’s about trying to find a way and trying to win,” said Zverev according to The Guardian.

Next up for him is the clay court specialist he beat to achieve his third Masters 1000 title in Madrid, Dominic Thiem, the last man to beat Rafael Nadal on clay — like he did last year — and who just defeated Kei Nishikori — also having a fantastic comeback during clay season — in four sets, 6-2, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4.

“That’s the match-up most of the fans in Germany and Austria were hoping for when they saw the draw,” Thiem said about facing Zverev in the quarters. “He’s an amazing player — probably now the third-best after Rafa and Roger.”

Also still in the mix is Novak Djokovic, who dismantled Fernando Verdasco in three sets with ease, and who will now be facing Italian and world No. 72 Marco Ceccinato, who until this week had never won a grand slam match and whose claim to fame in the past was a price-fixing ban for a Challenger event. Will Djokovic stop Ceccinato’s Cinderella run for redemption?

“For me, this is the best moment of my life. Maybe it’s a dream, because now I’m very, very happy for this match,” said Cecchinato after his surprise victory over clay court specialist and eighth seed David Goffin, 7-5 4-6 6-0 6-3.

For the women, we will be treated to a repeat of the U.S. Open final with great friends and rivals, Americans Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys. Both players beat their opponents in about an hour, with Stephens defeating Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 6-0, and Keys taking down Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-1, 6-4.

“I always want to see Sloane do well,” Keys said and friend-rival Stephens. “I’d love for both of us to be able to be in the position to play each other multiple times … I’m always cheering for her.”

“I mean, she’s, like, really the only person I actually watch, because I will be texting her during the match: ‘Come on! What are you doing?’” Stephens joked right back.

Stephens was the victor at Flushing Meadows, but both players have been consistently great throughout Roland Garros and the match is expected to be highly competitive.

Unseeded Yulia Putintseva took out another surprise big name, defeating 26th seed Barbora Strykova in straight set, 6-4, 6-3.

Things weren’t looking good for Australian Open champ Caroline Wozniacki, losing the first set to Russia’s Daria Kasatkina 7-6(5), with the second set suspended due to nightfall at 3-3 even. Perhaps the second seed will be able to collect herself and turn things around tomorrow after the 14th seed was out-hitting and out-thinking her in the match.

Fourth round matches resume on Monday, with Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams headlining the day, with coverage on both on the Tennis Channel and NBC.

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