Alexander Zverev did not want to believe that his rival in the French Open quarterfinals had saved a break point with a shot that landed — or was it only near? — a line in the fourth match Tuesday.
So Zverev crouched down close to the mark on the red clay and participated in a bit of an argument with chair umpire Alison Hughes, repeatedly saying,”No!” Then”How?”
Hughes, whose telephone was backed up with an unofficial movie producing shown on TV, didn’t budge, and Zverev immediately lost that match, then the next one, also, to collapse briefly behind. May have been the beginning of an unraveling.
Rather, Zverev recovered fast, grabbed 16 of the remaining 19 games and easily moved to his third Grand Slam semifinal by beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-4, 6-1, 6-1.
The No. 6-seeded Zverev, the U.S. Open runner-up to Dominic Thiem last year, will participate in his first semifinal at Roland Garros against No. 2 Daniil Medvedev or No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas.
In the two women’s quarterfinals played earlier in the afternoon at Court Philippe Chatrier, No. 31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia and also 85th-ranked Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia every got her first berth at a significant semifinal.
Pavlyuchenkova entered the afternoon with an 0-6 record in Slam quarterfinals — such as a reduction in Paris back in 2011 — but she edged her doubles partner Elena Rybakina 6-7 (2), 6-2, 9-7.
“Mentally it was really, really difficult this morning,” the 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova explained. “Particularly since I needed to play Elena.”
Rybakina was able to eliminate 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the fourth round but wasn’t able to play as well against Pavlychenkova.
Really, her main triumphs as an athlete might have come in an entirely different sport: She was a junior national champion in snowboarding.
But spurred on by the vocal support of her training team on Court Philippe Chatrier, Zidansek got past No. 33 seed Paula Badosa 7-5, 4-6, 8-6.
“It feels overwhelming,” Zidansek said.
There were 15 service breaks in that match and Badosa acknowledged being somewhat undone by her nerves.
She threw her racket in the changeover after falling behind 6-5 in the third set.
“I figure I managed to keep my composure now a little bit better compared to her,” Zidansek explained.
Zverev was able to contain whatever was roiling inside after what, to him, perhaps felt like a critical moment — even if it arrived after just 20 minutes of play against the 46th-ranked Davidovich Fokina, a 22-year-old from Spain who loves to use drop shots.
But after getting broken 3 times in the opening series, Zverev never faced so much as you break point the rest of the way.
And he played so much more cleanly that Davidovich Fokina, that wound up with 37 unforced errors to Zverev’s 16.
Zverev began this French Open in the worst way possible : He lost the initial two collections he played 6-3, 6-3 against qualifier Oscar Otte.
However, Zverev hasn’t dropped one since, completing a comeback at five against Otte to begin a run that has now stretched to 15 sets in a row.