The third-round meeting between Andy Murray and Alexander Zverev has been referred to as a ‘grudge match’ with the Brit making public his support of the ATP’s investigation into domestic abuse which the German is accused of by his former girlfriend.
Obviously it was a fantastic match. I thought Andy played extremely well, maybe as well as he's played since the (hip) surgery. I hope he continues playing the same way, because tennis did miss him for a long time and I think it's good to have him back. Alexander Zverev
Zverev denies the allegations and welcomes the investigation, pointing out he had himself asked for one to be held some time ago to clear his name.
It also marks the first time the two players, winners of Olympic Gold – Murray at the London Games in 2012 and Rio 2016, while Zverev succeeded him in Tokyo 2020 – have met and for Zverev, it was an opportunity to inflict a defeat on the one member of the Big Four he hadn’t played.
The world No.4 from Germany, seeded three, had to battle to get past the former world number one and notch up that 6-4 7-6(4) victory on his racket and, after claiming the victory, paid tribute to the Briton’s performance.
“He’s the only one of the Big Four that I hadn’t beaten yet, so I’m happy that I’ve done it today,” he said.
“I always stayed in the match, even though I was down a break in both sets. I always knew I had a chance. Especially the second set I think was an extremely high level from both of us. It could have gone both ways.
“Obviously it was a fantastic match. I thought Andy played extremely well, maybe as well as he’s played since the (hip) surgery. I hope he continues playing the same way, because tennis did miss him for a long time and I think it’s good to have him back.”
The Scot began in fine form, racing away to an early break before Zverev was able to settle into his rhythm to take the first set.
Again Murray went a break up in the second set only for Zverev to regain the initiative as both players made uncharacteristic errors resulting in the Brit throwing his racket in frustration on several occasions after missing easy shots.
Zverev kept calm throughout, even when a left shoe lace broke in the second set but it didn’t stop him playing despite his now unsure footing. During an extra-long change over to replace the laces, Murray took a comfort break but that didn’t upset the Zverev rhythm who on resumption, went on to win three of the next five games to force a tiebreaker.
There Zverev went up 3-0 but while Murray fought back to get to 4-5, but the 24-year-old German completed his victory at the net.
“I’m happy about the match, how everything went,” Zverev, who moves on to play Gael Monfils of France who rolled over hard-hitting South African Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-2, said later.
“You got to enjoy what you’re doing. You got to enjoy being out on the court. You got to enjoy playing tennis,” Zverev added. “After Wimbledon I really enjoyed every second that I was on court.”
Not surprisingly, Murray felt thwarted.
“I’m disappointed because I obviously want to be winning these matches,” Murray said. “I haven’t in the last few months. Something needs to change.”
In the night match, second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece came from behind to defeat Italian veteran Fabio Fognini 2-6 6-3 6-4 to reach the fourth round where he will face Australia’s Alex De Minaur, who defeated Chile’s Cristian Garin in straight sets 6-4 6-2.
“Great comeback, honestly… I don’t know what happened,” Tsitsipas said on the ATP website. “I really wanted to get back in the match and it happened somehow.
“From [a set and a break down] I just took it point by point and it worked out pretty well. A good mindset and also a bit of patience helped as well. I found solutions in those tough moments and really felt like I had momentum.”
As regards his next opponent, Tsitsipas leads their head-to-head record 5-0 in tour-level main draw matches, with De Minaur’s sole victory achieved in qualifying at an ATP Challenger tournament on grass in 2017.
Earlier in the day, California’s very own Taylor Fritz caused one of the upsets of the men’s singles tournament so far, kicking off play on Tuesday with a spectacular win over fifth seeded Italian, Matteo Berrettini, 6-4 6-3.
The American, whose ranking has hovered around the Top 30 for the best part of his career to date, scored one of the most impressive wins of his 2021 season with a striking display of tactical discipline against the 2021 Wimbledon finalist.
By targeting Berrettini’s backhand and avoiding the Italian’s fearsome forehand, Fritz reaped the benefits from the start to lead 4-1.
Although the Californian surrendered his first-set advantage as he attempted to close it out, another last-minute break of the Italian serve proved timely to pocket the opener.
In the second it was a similar scenario – Fritz, seeded 31, leaping into an early lead but this time, holding it to march into the fourth round where he will face another Italian Jannik Sinner, the 16th seed, who progressed into the last 16 after John Isner handed him a walkover to get back home and support his wife during labour.
Finally, Nikoloz Bassilashvili of Georgia survived a long tussle with Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 4-6 7-6(2) 6-2 where he will face Karen Khachanov of Russia, who dismissed another Spaniard, Pablo Carreno-Busta, the 12th seed, 6-0 6-4.