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‘Miss By A Mile Or Hit A Winner’: The Zverev Approach To Match Point

  • Posted: May 31, 2022

‘Miss By A Mile Or Hit A Winner’: The Zverev Approach To Match Point

Third seed fired backhand return to seal four-set win over Alcaraz

Leading by two sets to one and with a chance to clinch his quarter-final clash at Roland Garros with Carlos Alcaraz in the fourth-set tie-break, Alexander Zverev decided to gamble.

“It is one shot that I like to do,” said Zverev in his post-match press conference when asked about the backhand down-the-line return winner that sealed his 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(7) victory on Tuesday. “I have done it a lot in my career.

“I had to win the match myself. I feel like you’re either going to miss it by a country mile or going to hit a winner. So, I hit a winner, which I’m quite pleased about.”

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The final point was a microcosm of Zverev’s approach to the match. The third seed seemed intent on dictating play from the start on Court Philippe Chatrier, where aggressive serving and groundstrokes powered him to a two-set lead over the Spaniard. Zverev believes that mindset was crucial in securing his maiden win over a Top 10 opponent at a Grand Slam.

“I think Carlos is one of the best players in the world right now. It seems quite impossible to beat him. But I knew that I had to play my absolute best from the first point on.

“Letting him go ahead in the match, letting him get the confidence was going to be a very difficult thing for me to come back from. In the end I’m happy that I won in four sets and didn’t have to go to a fifth set.”

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As he moves within two matches of a maiden Grand Slam crown in Paris, Zverev acknowledged his expectations have changed when it comes to big matches at the majors.

“At the end of the day, I’m not 20 or 21 years old anymore,” said Zverev. “I’m 25. I am at the stage where I want to win, I’m at the stage where I’m supposed to win, as well.

“We still have the best players in the world playing with Novak [Djokovic], Rafa [Nadal], and Roger [Federer] is coming back. Then you have the new generation, but I think our generation is very strong as well. We have [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, [Daniil] Medvedev who is a US Open champion. I won big events like the Olympics, as well.”

The sort of resilience he showed in withstanding a strong Alcaraz fightback will be key for Zverev if he wants to progress further at the clay-court Grand Slam, where he faces World No. 1 Novak Djokovic or 13-time champion Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. No matter who his opponent is, the German hopes that Tuesday’s performance will stand him in good stead.

“There is a reason why they are the best in the world at Grand Slams,” said Zverev. “One [Nadal] has 21, the other one [Djokovic] has 20. They have been top of the game for the past 15, 20 years, and there is a big reason for that.

“Yes, I have not beaten them in majors, but I feel like I was very close. I feel like I have had very difficult and tough matches against them…But there is a big difference between having a tough match and beating them.

“Hopefully I can manage and take this win today and put it on the court on Friday.”

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Granollers/Zeballos Soar; Dodig/Krajicek Save 5 MPs

  • Posted: May 31, 2022

Granollers/Zeballos Soar; Dodig/Krajicek Save 5 MPs

Dodig/Krajicek have won past eight matches

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the first time together on Tuesday, overcoming sixth seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The Spanish-Argentine pair has won six tour-level titles as a team, including four ATP Masters 1000 crowns. However, they are searching for a maiden Grand Slam trophy in Paris this week.

In a hard-fought performance, the fourth seeds converted both break points they had to advance after one hour and 55 minutes. Koolhof and Skupski have been the standout pair on the ATP Tour in 2022. They have won a Tour-leading four titles this season and are currently No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Teams Rankings.

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Granollers and Zeballos will next play Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek. The Croatian-American tandem came back from the brink, edging Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 3-6, 7-6(9), 7-6(10).

Dodig and Krajicek saved one match point in the second set and then a further four match points in the decider to upset the top seeds in two hours and 36 minutes.

The unseeded tandem are competing together for the fourth time this season and arrived in Paris in form. They captured the trophy in Lyon earlier this month and have now won their past eight matches.

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Alcaraz: 'I'm Not Far Away From Winning A Grand Slam'

  • Posted: May 31, 2022

Alcaraz: ‘I’m Not Far Away From Winning A Grand Slam’

#NextGenATP Spaniard lost to Zverev in four sets

Carlos Alcaraz said that he is looking to take the positives from his Roland Garros quarter-final defeat to Alexander Zverev on Tuesday as he aims to use the experience as a learning curve.

The 19-year-old Spaniard entered the clash against the German on a 14-match winning streak, but was unable to cope with the World No. 3’s heavy-hitting, falling in four sets on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“I have to take the lessons [from] today. It was a tough match and close match,” Alcaraz said in his post-match press conference. “I could say I didn’t start well, and in this level, quarter-final of a Grand Slam, you are playing against the best players in the world, so you have to start the match better than I did today.

“I have to improve for the next Grand Slam or next matches. But I would say I’m not far away from reaching a semi-final or being able to win a Grand Slam… I would say I have the level, I have the confidence to win a Grand Slam or reach the semi-finals next time.”

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Alcaraz has enjoyed a standout 2022 season, capturing a Tour-leading four titles, including ATP Masters 1000s crowns in Miami and Madrid. The 19-year-old, who is 32-3 on the year, is currently No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

While Zverev produced the better level in the key moments against Alcaraz in a rematch from their Madrid final on Tuesday, the Spaniard gave another impressive account of himself in what was just his second appearance in Paris.

“I leave the court and leave the tournament with the head very high,” Alcaraz said. “I fought until the last ball. I fought until the last second of the match, and I’m proud of it.”

After winning a dramatic third set to gain a foothold in the match, Alcaraz was then edged in a fourth-set tie-break. While the five-time tour-level titlist was disappointed that he could not force a decider, he felt encouraged by many aspects of his game.

“I am going try to take the positive things of the match, and of course the bad things that I did, to improve to the next matches or next tournaments or next Grand Slams,” Alcaraz added. “I was close to a good match, close to a fifth set, and in the fifth set everything could happen. I’m going to take a lesson from this match.

“This was my second quarter-final at a Grand Slam and I think I fought until the last ball. I hope the next Grand Slam, next quarter-final that I will play at a Grand Slam, I will do better and [improve] my chances to reach the semi-finals.”

Despite falling short, Alcaraz revealed that he thoroughly enjoyed competing in the French capital, where he was backed by a vocal crowd throughout.

“I enjoyed [it] a lot, even [though] I lost,” Alcaraz said. “Playing in front of such a great crowd, playing in these kinds of tournaments, on this kind of court, is amazing for me… That’s why I’m training, that’s why I’m playing tennis, to keep dreaming, to have chances to be in the best tournaments in the world.

“Of course I couldn’t be disappointed with this crowd or I couldn’t ask for a better crowd in here, in Paris supporting me, until the last ball supporting me, from the beginning to the end of the match. I just say thank you to the crowd.”

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Stats Preview: Razor-Thin Advantages For Djokovic, Nadal

  • Posted: May 31, 2022

Stats Preview: Razor-Thin Advantages For Djokovic, Nadal

Find out where the advantages lie for each man

In matches of fine margins, statistics can often shine a light where the naked eye fails to see. Tuesday night’s Roland Garros quarter-final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal promises to be such a contest, with the World No. 1 and the 13-time Roland Garros champion set for their 59th ATP Head2Head meeting. digs into the numbers to understand where the advantages may lie for each player, analysing data from the first four rounds in Roland Garros.


Every point begins with this crucial shot, so this preview will start there, too. The standout statistic here is Novak Djokovic’s 82 per cent save rate on break points. The Serbian has saved 14 of the 17 break points against him while Nadal has erased half of the 18 break chances against his serve.

Both men have been solid on serve this fortnight, but they have dominated in slightly different ways. Nadal is stronger on second serve, where he has won 63 per cent of his points to Djokovic’s 56 per cent. The Spaniard’s average second serve comes in at 154.6 km/h while Djokovic delivers at an average of 142.5 km/h.

Nadal has reaped the rewards of a more aggressive second delivery, while Djokovic has the edge on first serve, winning 77 per cent of those points to Nadal’s still-strong 73 per cent. Both men have averaged roughly 182 km/h on first serve, with the Serbian hitting 31 aces to Nadal’s seven.

  Djokovic Nadal
 Break Points Saved 14/17 (82%) 9/18 (50%)
 First-Serve Win Rate 77% 73%
 Aces 31 7
 Second-Serve Win Rate 56% 63%
 Avg. Second-Serve Speed 142.5 km/h 154.6 km/h


Nadal and Djokovic have both won 41 per cent of first-serve return points, but the World No. 1 holds the edge on second-serve return, where he has claimed 63 per cent of the points on offer, compared to Nadal’s 58 per cent.

Both men have converted break points at roughly the same rate: Nadal at 46 per cent (26/57) and Djokovic at 48 per cent (23/58).

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Rallies & Net Approaches

In rallies short (0-4 shots), medium (5-8 shots) and long (8+ shots) in length, no significant edge stands out. Djokovic and Nadal have both enjoyed strong advantages in all three categories.

Against Felix Auger-Aliassime, Nadal lost the short rallies, 41-44. Djokovic edged the long rallies by just one point against both Alex Molcan (22-21) and Diego Schwartzman (23-22).

Looking at the winner count, both quarter-finalists are well over the 100 mark. But Djokovic has hit 134 winners on 395 points won (33.9 per cent) compared to Nadal’s 126 winners on 423 points won (27.8 per cent).

Despite Djokovic’s higher winner rate, his average rally length has been significantly longer than Nadal’s: 5.25 shots to 4.66 shots.

   Djokovic Nadal
0-4 Shots 204-144 228-197
5-8 Shots 114-67 131-73
9+ Shots 77-55 65-46
Avg. Rally 5.25 4.66

It’s also interesting to note that Djokovic has committed more unforced errors than forced (100 to 72), while Nadal’s number skew the opposite way with 97 unforced and 119 forced errors off his racquet.

When it comes to net play, both men have visited the forecourt more than 100 times, with Djokovic converting those points at a slightly higher clip than Nadal. The Serbian has won 80 of his 103 net points (78 per cent) to Nadal’s 75 of 106 (71 per cent).

Time On Court

After the pair’s four-hour and 10-minute semi-final showdown in the 2021 Roland Garros semi-finals, another long match could favour Djokovic. The Serbian has spent exactly two-and-a-half hours less on court than Nadal this fortnight, playing two fewer sets.

After battling for four hours and 21 minutes in his five-set win over Auger-Aliassime, Nadal has spent 10 hours and 43 minutes on court. Djokovic has been efficient in eight hours and 13 minutes of play.

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While Djokovic holds a 30-28 advantage overall in this legendary rivalry, Nadal holds a decisive 19-8 record on clay and an even stronger 7-2 mark at Roland Garros.

– Stats courtesy of Roland Garros

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