In Friday’s marquee quarter-final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, Alexander Zverev and Jannik Sinner lived up to the billing and then some by producing a Monaco classic over the course of three hours and seven minutes.
In a back-and-forth contest that saw 10 breaks of serve, Zverev finished strongest in a 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(5) victory to reach his second Monte Carlo semi-final.
“It means a lot, definitely, especially [with] how this year has been going so far for me,” said Zverev after his marathon win. “I’ve lost long matches like that, so I’m happy I won this one.”
The high level of play throughout the match belied the physical knocks both players battled through — Sinner with a foot blister and Zverev with a right thigh problem. Despite both men looking uneasy at times in between points, there was no let-up when the ball was in play as both combined big power with exceptional angles and touch in a thoroughly entertaining contest.
Zverev, who had not dropped a set until this quarter-final, continues to take advantage of his opportunity to close the gap on Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev atop the ATP Rankings. The World No. 3 can close to within 235 points of World No. 1 Djokovic with the title in Monte Carlo.
Early breaks of serve were erased in all three sets, with Sinner coming from behind to take the opener and Zverev returning the favour in set two. The German was twice pegged back in the third, and forced a decisive tie-break after missing out on a break point at 5-5.
In the face of tremendous crowd support for his opponent, Zverev edged a 7/5 tie-break in which half of the points went against serve, roaring with delight when a Sinner backhand found the net on match point.
The German was delighted to come out on top in a see-saw battle as he hunts a first title of 2022. “I’ve lost so many matches [like that] this year,” he said. “I guess it’s in the back of my mind and I think this one will definitely help.”
Sinner was previously six-for-six in decisive sets on the 2022 ATP Tour season, and seven-for-seven in tie-breaks.
It looked like the Italian could wrap the match up in two sets after he scored an early break in the second. But after Sinner began to lose the positional battle and fell back beyond the baseline, Zverev suddenly became the aggressor. Once the match turned, Sinner’s dogged defense was not enough to halt the second seed’s relentless charge.
Zverev now awaits the winner of defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas’ matchup with Deigo Schwartzman.