Roland Garros: Alexander Zverev digs deep to see off Roman Safiullin challenge

The sixth seed needed two tie-breakers to get the better of the Russian qualifier and enter the third round in Paris.

File photo - Alexander Zverev reacts after beating Ricardas Berankis; Credit: BMW Open Twitter

Sixth seed Alexander Zverev had to work hard to overcome a stern challenge by Russian qualifier Roman Safiullin to advance to the Roland Garros third round on Wednesday. Safiullin had stretched two of the three sets into a tie-breaker but Zverev emerged victorious in the end with a scoreline of 7-6, 6-3, 7-6. The 24-year-old Zverev, who won two titles this season – the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco and the Mutua Madrid Open, will next play a Serbian – Laslo Djere or Miomir Kecmanovic in Paris.

Earlier, Zverev was pushed to the limit in the 60-minute first set. Just when it looked like he had the upper hand, the German was broken when serving for the set at 6-5. But he got off to a strong start in the tie-break to bag the set.

Safiullin refocussed to gain an early break for a 3-1 lead in the second set. But Zverev impressively fought back to win the last five games without reply to go 2-0 up. The Russian was again a break up in the third set, but the German came back to level things up before winning the set and the match in yet another tie-breaker.

Rublev on loss: I was practicing well

Andrey Rublev made a first-round exit to Jan-Lennard Struff at Roland Garros on Tuesday. He later admitted his practice court form did not quite materialise on the court. Rublev said, “I think I played a good level. [There] were many good rallies, good intensity. I was really unlucky, it was a really tough match, [a] tough opponent for the first round.”

Struff had registered a 6-3, 7-6, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4 victory over three hours and 46 minutes. “I was feeling fine,” said Rublev. “I was practising well. I don’t know, I think we played a good level today. I played a solid two sets, third and fourth, and then the fifth set. I think I should have won the second set, but this is tennis, and I was serving for the set, and I didn’t make it and then tie-break [I was a] bit unlucky and he played well.”

“He was playing better and better,” said Rublev. “He’s improving and he’s winning really great matches. Today, I think he was playing really well… from the beginning.”

Sportslumo Desk

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