Zverev cruises; Djokovic, Berrettini drop sets to reach US Open quarters

(Update 1: changes head, adds Djokovic, Berrettini matches)

New York, Sep 6 (EFE).- German world No. 4 Alexander Zverev continued his impressive march through the US Open draw and the summer hard-court season, earning a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7) round-of-16 victory Monday over Italian rising star Jannik Sinner.

Zverev was in complete control of the match through the first two and a half sets, using his huge weapon on the first serve, rock-solid ground strokes and underrated defense to keep his nose in front.

The stats told the tale as the 24-year-old German dominated his service games in the first two sets to the tune of a 72 percent win rate on first serves and a whopping 64 percent clip on second-serve points.

The momentum started to shift, however, late in the third set, with the 20-year-old Italian earning his first break of the match to level that set at 4-4 and starting to dictate the rallies with his fearsome ground strokes.

Sinner then had a golden chance to claim the third set in the tiebreaker, but he committed one costly forehand unforced error wide of the sideline when serving at 6-5 and then another in the net when down match point.

Zverev’s serve was the big difference in a contest in which the players were fairly evenly matched from the baseline, with the German racking up 17 aces to Sinner’s five and getting broken two fewer times than his opponent (one compared to three).

“Players with confidence who have played a lot of matches usually know what to do in these situations,” Zverev, who last month won gold at the Tokyo Games and captured the Cincinnati Masters title and now is on a 15-match winning streak, said in a post-match interview.

“I think I played pretty good tennis in the second set and the first set as well. I feel like I played one bad game in the whole match and it made it very difficult in the third set, so I’m happy to be through in straights.”

The 2020 US Open runner-up will next take on surprise quarterfinalist Lloyd Harris of South Africa, a 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 winner Monday afternoon over big-serving American Reilly Opelka.

In other men’s matches of the day, world No. 1 Serbian Novak Djokovic defeated 99th-ranked American teenager Jenson Brooksby 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to move into the US Open quarterfinals for the 12th time in 16 appearances.

Despite losing a set as he has been want to do in his previous matches too, Djokovic remained perfect in his quest for a calendar Grand Slam in men’s tennis for the first time since Australian legend Rod Laver in 1969.

The 34-year-old Serbian needed two hours and 58 minutes of play on the Arthur Ashe Stadium’s center court to reach the quarterfinals, where he will face sixth seed Italian Matteo Berrettini.

This is the fourth time Djokovic and Berrettini will face off. They last met in the Wimbledon final last year, which the Serbian won in four sets.

Brooksby, the youngest American to reach the fourth round of the tournament since 20-year-old Andy Roddick in 2002, had his moment of glory when he picked up the first set in just 29 minutes.

But it was only a matter of seconds before Djokovic switched gears and broke his opponent to go up 2-0 in the second set.

The second set was marked by long rallies but the world no. 1 held on to level the match.

From then on, the Serbian remained in control to clinch his 25th consecutive match win in majors this year and move into the quarterfinals.

“I think the momentum changed midway through the second set, we played a couple of very long games. I lost my serve but I regrouped to re-break the next game and after that I started hitting more cleanly, hitting through the court,” Djokovic said.

“Whenever I needed a serve I found my serve, I hit my spots well, but all in all it was a very physical battle, a lot of exhausting rallies. Credit to him for his performance tonight. It was fantastic.”

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