Germany's Alexander Zverev hits a backhand during his French Open fourth-round match against Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov on 5 June 2023 in Paris, France. Zverev won 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. EFE/EPA/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

Zverev reaches French Open quarterfinals for 3rd straight year

Paris, June 5 (EFE).- Alexander Zverev reached the French Open quarterfinals for the third straight year – and fifth time in the past six years – by brushing aside Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 Monday at Stade Roland Garros.

Polish world No. 1 Iga Swiatek hits a backhand during her French Open fourth-round match against Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko on 5 June 2023 in Paris, France. Swiatek advanced to the quarterfinals when Tsurenko retired due to illness while trailing 5-1 in the first set. EFE/EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

The 26-year-old Zverev suffered a gruesome ankle injury when playing eventual champion Rafael Nadal a year ago in the semifinals of tennis’ biggest clay-court event and has struggled with his form – and suffered a drop in his ranking – since returning to the ATP Tour at the start of this year.

Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov shows his frustration during his French Open fourth-round match against Germany's Alexander Zverev on 5 June 2023 in Paris, France. Zverev won 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. EFE/EPA/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

But he has chosen the perfect time to find his highest level once again, cruising into the last eight of Roland Garros with the loss of just one set in four matches.

Holger Rune of Denmark smiles after defeating Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) in French Open fourth-round action in Paris, France on 5 June 2023. EFE/EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

In Monday’s night match, Zverev earned a second early service break and a 3-0 lead with an outstanding running forehand down-the-line winner that landed just inside the baseline.

That was more than enough of a cushion for the German, who won all 10 of his first-serve points in the opener.

With Dimitrov serving at 5-1, the No. 22 seed clinched the first set by breaking the Bulgarian’s serve yet again with a delicate backhand drop shot winner.

Zverev was a bit more vulnerable on serve in the second set, although he recovered from a 4-2 deficit by breaking back in the eighth game and then earned three set points when Dimitrov committed a series of unforced errors in the 10th game.

The Bulgarian ultimately saved four set points, but Zverev finally snagged a two-set lead when his opponent netted a slice backhand.

Dimitrov kept fighting and rallied from a 3-0 third-set deficit to even the score at 3-3, but his inability to hold serve proved to be his undoing as Zverev broke once again for a 5-3 lead and clinched victory in just two hours and 17 minutes when the Bulgarian blocked a backhand return of serve wide of the sideline.

After the easy win, Zverev returned to the practice courts to work more on his serve.

“I felt like at 3-0 in the third set I got very unfocused. I kind of thought the match was over before having it over, and I was not concentrated anymore, and my serve went missing a little bit,” the German said afterward “So I just wanted to get the feeling of having that back, because it’s going to be important for after tomorrow, I think.”

Next up for Zverev in the quarterfinals will be Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry, who cruised past Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6 (10-8), 6-0, 6-1 on Monday.

The other men’s quarterfinal in the bottom half of the draw will pit sixth-seeded Danish rising star Holger Rune, who edged Argentina’s Fernando Cerundolo 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7), against fourth-seeded Norwegian Casper Ruud, who topped Chile’s Nicolas Jarry 7-6 (7-3), 7-5, 7-5.

Ruud and Rune also played at this same stage of last year’s French Open, with the Norwegian coming out on top in four sets.

In women’s singles action on Monday, Polish world No. 1 Iga Swiatek continued her relentless march through the draw, reaching the Roland Garros quarterfinals for the fourth straight year when her opponent, Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko, retired due to illness while trailing 5-1.

Next up for Swiatek will be American rising star Coco Gauff, the player she defeated in last year’s French Open final. Gauff advanced Monday with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia.

In other women’s fourth-round action on Monday, seventh-seeded Tunisian Ons Jabeur cruised past American Bernarda Pera and will next take on Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia, who rallied for a 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 7-5 win over Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo. EFE

/mc