New York (AP) – Alexander Zverev, Germany’s top tennis professional, has reached the round of 16 at the US Open after hours of waiting and uncertainty about hosting his third round.
“We were initially told that we would rather not play. It was a back and forth game,” said the 23-year-old Hamburger on Friday (local time) after the 6: 7 (4: 7), 6: 4, 6 : 2, 6: 2 against the French Adrian Mannarino. In the battle for a place in the quarterfinals, Zverev now takes on the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
The 21-year-old is number 99 in the world, Zverev is in seventh place and fifth in the Grand Slam tournament in New York after the cancellations of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The match in the third round between Zverev and Mannarino had started a few hours late. As the American tennis association USTA announced, there have been discussions with the health authorities before. No details could be disclosed regarding privacy and sensitivity to medical issues.
Zverev said in the winners’ interview on the field that the postponement had to do with the fact that Mannarino was one of the contacts of his fellow countryman Benoit Paire, who tested positive for the coronavirus and was therefore excluded from the US Open. A group of up to eleven players therefore had to go into extra quarantine in the so-called bubble.
According to Zverev, the state of New York initially issued an order prohibiting Mannarino from playing. Actually, the game should have taken place right after Angelique Kerber’s encounter with the American Ann Li. Kerber entered the round of 16 with a clear two-set win. After that, the Louis Armstrong Stadium remained empty. Zverev and Mannarino did not initially appear at the facility’s second largest stadium.
Instead, the German number one sat shirtless in front of his box at Arthur Ashe Stadium and watched the game between Denis Shapovalov (Canada) and Taylor Fritz (USA). Only around 11.10 pm German time did Zverev and Mannarino arrive on the spot for their match. “That was a strange day, the players have to deal with that first,” said German tennis legend Boris Becker at Eurosport shortly after the start of the match.
World number 39. Mannarino started well and won the first set in the tie-break. But then Zverev increased and also gave less uncertainty about his own service. In the third set, Mannarino had to have his thigh treated and then seemed noticeably disabled. The French did not give up, but had to admit defeat after 2:52 a.m.