High hopes came crashing down once against for Alexander Zverev. For the fourth Slam in the five the much-hyped youngster failed to close out a match. Today, the 20-year-old was up by 2 sets to 1 against fellow NextGen Hyeon Chung before the Korean took control over the last two sets to register a stunning 5-7, 7-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 to advance to the fourth round at the Australian Open.
“I think we both played very good for four sets,” said Zverev. “I think the match was very high level. I don’t think it was bad at all. Even in the fourth set, you know, after I lost my serve, I think I still played well. I still had chances to break him back. Then in the fifth set, I mean, went so fast that I didn’t really have time to realize what was happening.”
The fifth set did fly by in 23 minutes because the World No. 4 managed to win just five points. So what happened? Why another collapse after Borna Coric at the US Open, Milos Raonic at Wimbledon and Rafael Nadal here a year ago?
“Definitely not physical,” Zverev explained. “I have some figuring out to do, what happens to me in deciding moments in Grand Slam. It happened at Wimbledon. It happened in New York. It happened here. I’m still young, so I got time. I definitely have some figuring out to do for myself.”
With the victory, Chung becomes the first Korean man to make the fourth round of the Australian Open.
“Today was really tough match against Zverev,” said Chung. “I have played him last year in clay court. We know how to play each other, but however, he’s already in tough level. The weather is tough, as well. I’m just trying to stay calm all the time on the court and just stay relaxed. That’s the key for today.
“I don’t want to stop here. Keep going, I want.”
Chung moves on to take on the Novak Djokovic who beat up on Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2, 6-, 6-3. Djokovic though, had to get treatment for what looked like his hip/lower back area. Concern?
“It was okay. Nothing major,” Djokovic said. “I haven’t played six months. We have to take that in consideration.
“I deal with it. It’s fine. I finished the match. I’m very pleased for that.”
Two players who had never won a Grand Slam match before this week – American Tennys Sandgren and Hungarian Marton Fucsovics – kept their dream runs going. Sandgren ousted Maximilian Marterer 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6(5) while Fucsovics cruised past Nicolas Kicker in 3.
“It’s kind of silly, right? It feels kind of silly,” the 26-year-old Sandgren said. “I didn’t think I’d make the second week when I came here. I was hoping to play a few good matches or try to get my first win, things like that. But to realistically set my sights on a second week wasn’t on the cards.
“The way things played out is I had a tough opponent, but a winnable match today. Just wanted to do my best to try to take advantage of that, leave it all out on the court. I was able to do that. Thankfully I was able to come out on top because he was playing some good tennis, he started strong. I was not sure how that one was going to go, that’s for sure.”
Sandgren now faces No. 5 seed Dominic Thiem who breezed past Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 to reach his second straight Australian Open fourth round.
Fucsovic’s reward is a Monday date with 5-time champion Roger Federer who was a late night winner over Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5, 6-4. The Swiss is now 18-2 against Gasquet, winning the last 9. Federer has now won his last 10 matches in Melbourne.
Federer came out quick jumping on Gasquet to go up 3-1. But let a break slip in the third before recovering.
Also today, Fabio Fognini won a tight 5-setter over 36-year-old Julien Benneteau 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
Fognini now takes on Tomas Berdych who had a surprisingly straightforward night getting past a less-than-fit Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.
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