He got off to a great start, taking the first two sets and seemingly on his way to the finish line. As he's experienced in majors before, Alexander Zverev once again found himself in a sticky situation, watching his massive edge against Dusan Lajovic evaporate.
"Yeah, I mean, obviously I started off not so good, being a break down twice in the first set, and then I came back very well. Second set was almost perfect for me," Zvevev said. "And then I think he picked up his level, as well, in the third set. The fourth set I played, you know, I played very bad. Great to come through."
After three hours and three minutes, he righted the ship to move into the fourth round of the French Open with a 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 1-6, 6-2 victory over the 35th-ranked Serb. The fifth-seeded German is starting to find his rhythm after a challenging start to the season, turning it around with a title win in Geneva in May. He has now won seven straight matches, something he hadn't done in a long time. Bidding for his first major, he has yet to advance past the quarterfinals of a Slam—he reached his first final eight in the event last season.
In the Saturday battle, Zverev struggled to find his footing at the start of the match, surrendering his opening service game. Lajovic had an opportunity to go up two breaks, having earned three break chances in the fifth game. Instead, it was the German who came out on top in the first set despite committing 19 errors to 11 winners.
The 22-year-old started to find his range, blasting winners and cleaning up his mistakes. Not to be written off, Lajovic surged ahead in the third to buy himself more time on the court. That proved fruitful, for a moment, as he took the third and fourth sets to force a deciding set. Zverev put a hold on that comeback as he steadied the ship, taking control of the fifth set to get back on top.
Zverev is competing without his coach Ivan Lendl, who will return for the upcoming grass-court season.
"I played Geneva and we didn't have time to prepare here. We thought there is no point coming here basically with one practice session. We decided I'm going to do Paris by myself, and you will see him a lot during the grass court season and you'll have plenty of time to get tired of him."
Zverev will next face Fabio Fognini, who defeated Roberto Bautista Agut, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. He leads their head-to-head series 2-1, but the Italian won their last encounter in the Monte Carlo round of 16 en route to his title run.
"It's going to be a difficult match. I think [Fognini] playing very well. Hasn't lost more than a set so far in a match. So, you know, it's going to be difficult match. I'm ready for it. I think I'm playing much better than I have the last few months. You know, we'll see how it goes," Zverev said.