Olympic champion Alexander Zverev is slowly approaching his former world-class level again. The Hamburger lost his round of 16 endurance test against former world number one Daniil Medvedev in Indian Wells 7: 6 (7: 5), 6: 7 (5: 7), 5: 7, but he played offensively, actively and dominant at times.
His opponent, however, defended exceptionally tough and well behind the baseline, even though he twisted his ankle in the second set.
Zverev lost his serve in the first round on Tuesday immediately after an early break, and he only used his fifth set ball. The extremely defensive playing Medvedev, now unbeaten in 17 matches in a row, scolded during the break and spat on the court – it was “a shame” that this slow, soft surface in California passed as a hard court. In addition, the Russian, who won three tournaments this year, struggled with an unusual number of double faults.
Zverev, on the other hand, played more freely in the 3:16 hours than during the almost two and a half hours of torture in the previous round against Emil Ruusuvuori (Finland). With his semi-finals in Dubai, he finally broke his earnings crisis after a long injury break.
In the second set against Medvedev, the rallies became longer, and Zverev missed a total of seven break chances in his opponent’s first two service games alone. Medvedev continued to muddle through the surface and the balls in one go, but surprisingly remained focused between the changes of ends.
But then he twisted his right foot on his own breakball and was treated for minutes, Zverev rushed to help remembering his own injury – and lost the sentence. After that he ran after a break early on, came back and caught the crucial break with a double fault.
During the course of the match, Medvedev also unpacked a real magic hit: Zverev had actually already booked a short return from the Russian as a winner via smash, but Medvedev managed to get the ball far behind the baseline – and played an outstanding overhead ball in serve-style cross as a passing ball to win a point.