PARIS (Reuters) - Whether Alexander Zverev is a fan of Aerosmith is not known but his new motto seems to be one of the American rock band’s most famous songs - ‘Living on the edge’.
For the third time in five days Zverev could not stop himself from falling two-sets-to-one down at the French Open.
For the third time in five days the German second seed’s poor run at the Grand Slams looked set to continue.
For the third time in five days the 21-year-old left his nearest and dearest with racing hearts for more than three hours.
However, just when it seemed like he was going to fall off the edge, he managed to crawl to safety with a 4-6 7-6(4) 2-6 6-3 6-3 win over Karen Khachanov that carried him into the quarter-finals of a major for the first time.
With seventh seed and twice Roland Garros semi-finalist Dominic Thiem waiting in the wings to take him on, did he have enough left physically and mentally to take on that challenge?
“I’m in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. If you’re mentally fatigued, then something is wrong with you,” said the second seed, who called on a trainer to treat blisters on his left toes before the start of the fifth set on Sunday.
“Physically, obviously it’s not easy to play back-to-back five-set matches but I will manage it somehow. I will do everything I can to recover. I will make sure to be ready in two days’ time.”
Zverev’s heroics this week have already gained him entry into a select club as he is only the eighth man to win three consecutive five setters at Roland Garros since tennis turned professional in 1968.
Of those, only Gustavo Kuerten has gone on to hoist the Musketeers Cup after being taken the distance in three successive matches in 1997.
Whether the blisters on Zverev’s feet will allow him to follow in the popular Brazilian’s footsteps remains to be seen but after finally reaching the last eight of a major in his 12th attempt, the man tipped as a Grand Slam-champion-in-waiting hoped the journey would not end prematurely.
“Obviously, I have spent a lot of time on court here,” he said. “I hope I can win more matches mere. I hope this is not the end here,” said the second seed, who has won more matches this year than any other player, including world number one Rafael Nadal.
“I’m very happy about being in the quarter-finals here with going the hard way, going the long distance every single time and showing everybody that I can play for as long as I need to.”
With his last three matches keeping him on court for almost 11 hours, it was little wonder he was getting his end game muddled up a bit — that is to lift the trophy next Sunday.
“This is not the end. This is the quarter-finals,” he said after firing down 17 aces, 63 winners and saving 12 break points on Sunday to reach the second week.
“It’s not Sunday (today). It is Sunday but, I mean (I want to be here) a week later (on the final) Sunday, not this Sunday,” he added with a confused smile.
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ed Osmond