There were some serious clashes on the fourth day of the Cincinnati Masters when some previous results were avenged as the Western & Southern Open reached the quarter final stage at the Lindner Family Tennis Centre.
I probably had one of the worst weeks (in Toronto) since I’m kind of pain-free. So I need to come out, I need to show myself that I can play well and that I can compete again. And yeah, I’m doing that and I’m happy with that Alexander Zverev
The two big revenge matches pitched the world No. against Americas Tommy Paul, who beat him in Toronto last week for the second time in their young careers, and Alexander Zverev against Daniil Medvedev, the world No.3 which opened the day’s play.
The encounter lasted two-hours and 32-minutes with Germany’s Zverev, currently ranked 17, securing his first win over the Russian this year in what was their third meeting of the season.
The pair, former Cincinnati champions, had to contend with some difficult windy conditions and it was Zverev, the 2021 title winner who got the better of his rival, the 2019 winner 6-4 5-7 6-4 during which time the German outhit the Russian with 36 winners to his 13.
Zverev also saved two break points he faced at 4-4 in the decider before breaking the third seed’s serve in the next game and serving out for his well-earned victory.
For Medvedev, who had chances in the latter stages of the third set, the loss is a major disappointment as he believes he could have done better,
Zverev’s delight at finally securing a win over his ‘nemesis’ and reduced the career win-loss gap between them to 7-9. When asked what pleased him most about his performance, he replied: “Just the patience that I had, probably.
“Very difficult conditions but also a very difficult opponent. I think he’s somebody that gives you absolutely nothing, you have to win the match yourself and that’s what I did today. I’m pleased with that.”
Also, when asked how he managed the conditions so well, Zverev responded: “Just trying to be patient, focus on yourself in a way. I mean, you have to kind of take your chances, take your opportunities – you’re not going to get many because we’re both serving quite well.
“But at the end of the day, I lost three very tight matches this year and I’m happy to have finally won one today.”
Zverev has now extended his winning streak in Cincinnati to eight matches, as he didn’t defend his title last year due to injury.
“I think it was important especially after last week when in Toronto I probably had a very bad week,” said Zverev who lost in the second round to Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at the Canadian Open.
“I probably had one of the worst weeks since I’m kind of pain-free. So I need to come out, I need to show myself that I can play well and that I can compete again. And yeah, I’m doing that and I’m happy with that.”
On Friday, he will play Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who benefitted from Mackenzie McDonald’s retirement when leading 6-4 3-0 for a place in the last-four.
At the tail-end of the day, the 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, the top seed, was keen to stop Tommy Paul becoming his ‘nemesis’ but the 26-year-old was just as determined to continue where he left off in Toronto where he won over three tight sets in the round of 16.
And while Paul, currently ranked 13, failed in that attempt as Alcaraz erased the defeat from his memory banks, the match itself was another bruising affair which could have gone either way before the Spaniard secured it 7-6(6) 6-7(0) 6-3 after three-hours and 7-minutes.
The first two sets took up over two hours of that when the rains came suspending the match for 90-minutes to give both players some respite with Alcaraz rueing the fact he failed to take advantage of three match points in the second set.
“It was a really tough match. We were playing a really close match before the rain came. But I think I did pretty well the wait in the gym, warming up,” Alcaraz said on the ATP website.
“I told everyone that I really wanted [to win], since I lost in Toronto. I came here in Cincinnati and I’m really happy with the level. I think I’m getting better and better. I’m really happy to be in the quarterfinals here.”
Awaiting him in the quarter finals is Australian qualifier Matt Purcell who brought Stan Wawrinka’s run to an end 6-4 6-2.
Also through to the last eight is Novak Djokovic who required just 68-minutes to roll past the great entertainer Gael Monfils 6-3 6-2 and record his 19th successive win over the Frenchman.
“I just managed to hold my serve really comfortably. I think I was hitting the spots well, and just made him play,” Djokovic, the second seed, commented later.
“He made a few unforced errors at 4-3 in the first set to hand me the break. After that it was no looking back for me. I started to raise the level more and more, almost a flawless second set. I guess his game suits me. It’s nice to see him back. We haven’t played for quite a few years. It’s great to see him back playing at a high level.”
Djokovic, following his opening match retirement and his comfortable win on Thursday, will have his first real challenge when he faces Taylor Fritz, the ninth seed from the US who progressed when his opponent the Serb qualifier Dusan Lajovic retired after 17-minutes when trailing 5-0.
The big upset of the day though came at the hands of Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz who took just 64-minutes to dump the fourth seeded Greek, Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 6-4 while Alexei Popyrin of Australia continued to make the most of his Lucky Loser ticket, ousted Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori 6-2 1-6 6-3. The two are now scheduled to meet in the quarter finals on Friday.