Alexander Zverev gets brutally honest on his very late French Open thriller finish

Zverev sealed his French Open round-of-16 win over Holger Rune after 01:30 AM in Paris.

by Dzevad Mesic
Alexander Zverev gets brutally honest on his very late French Open thriller finish
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Mason

Alexander Zverev had zero interest in complaining about finishing very late his French Open round-of-16 match versus Holger Rune as the German tennis star acknowledged that he would always choose to play late but win rather than to play early but lose in the end. 

In a match that started at 09:30 PM on Monday and finished after 01:30 AM the following day, No. 4 seed Zverev claimed a hard-fought 4-6 6-1 5-7 7-6 (2) 6-2 win over 13th-seeded Rune. 

For Zverev, it was his second consecutive five-set win at Roland Garros, having also needed five sets against Tallon Griekspoor in the French Open third round. And also, it was the second consecutive Zverev match that went over four hours. 

But even after playing 10 sets in his last two matches and spending nine hours on the court, the 27-year-old German was only looking positively on the entire situation. 

“I’ll survive. Look, I’m a lot happier to still be in the tournament at 3:00 AM than be out of it at 3:00 PM," Zverev noted after the match.

Alexander Zverev
Alexander Zverev© Getty Images Sport - Clive Mason

Zverev optimistic he will recover for his next match

For a place in the French Open semifinal, Zverev will battle against world No. 11 Alex de Minaur, who upset Daniil Medvedev on Monday. 

When Zverev and 25-year-old de Minaur meet, it will be their ninth meeting overall but just their second meeting on clay. So far, Zverev has dominated their head-to-head as the German has seven wins and two losses versus the Australian. 

When it comes to their lone clay meeting, it happened in Rome two years ago and Zverev won it with a 6-3 7-6 (5) scoreline. 

Since de Minaur has had two straight-set wins and two four-set wins at Roland Garros, the 25-year-old Australian will probably enter the Zverev match as a fresher player. However, Zverev remains optimistic that he will look well physically versus de Minaur.

"Yeah, I'm proud. I'm proud to be in the quarterfinals. I've played a total of eight and a half hours over the last three days. So, I need to recover. I need to do everything possible to be ready for the quarterfinal match because obviously, the tournament doesn't stop here and I want to continue," Zverev said.

Alexander Zverev
Alexander Zverev© Getty Images Sport - Clive Mason

How Zverev edged out Rune and what he said afterward?

After claiming the first break of the match in the fifth game, Rune then saved three break points in the following game before serving out for the opener in the 10th game.

Down by a set, Zverev emphatically responded as he broke Rune three times in the second set en route to easily leveling the match to one set apiece.

Then at the start of the third set, Rune earned a break for a 2-0 lead but Zverev got the break back instantly in the third game. Late in the set, Rune saved two consecutive break points in the 11th game for a 6-5 lead before breaking Zverev in the following game to go up by two sets to one.

A set away from exiting the French Open, Zverev was twice up by a break in the fourth set but Rune twice recovered to force a tie-break. However, failing to capitalize on his fourth-set chances didn't come back to haunt Zverev, who opened a 6-1 lead in the fourth-set tie-break before realizing his second set point to send the match into a fifth set.

After forcing a decider, Zverev didn't have problems completing his comeback win as he broke Rune in the fourth and eighth games to seal a five-set win and a quarterfinal ticket. 

“Funny enough, I think even though I played five sets before (against Griekspoor), I was fresher in a way. I did see that he was getting a little bit fatigued. Maybe also experience (was a factor). I’ve been on tour for a few years now," Zverev said after the match.

Alexander Zverev and Holger Rune
Alexander Zverev and Holger Rune© Getty Images Sport - Clive Mason

Now, the head-to-head between Zverev and Rune stands at 1-1. Previously, Rune won their first meeting in 2022 Munich. And after sealing his first win over Rune, the German tennis star spoke very highly of the 21-year-old Dane. 

"Wow, what a match to be honest. Holger Rune is an unbelievable player, a young talent. You're going to see him for 15, maybe 20 years on this beautiful court, so credit to him," Zverev said of Rune.

"He's been playing unbelievable this week. He's been struggling this year a little bit. But this week, obviously, he's been playing unbelievable tennis. And I'm lucky to be through."

Alexander Zverev French Open Holger Rune