German tennis star Alexander Zverev insisted that world No. 182 Roman Safiullin played a great match against him at the French Open. Zverev, ranked at No. 6 in the world, was made to work by Safiullin but he beat the Russian in straight sets 7-6 (4) 6-3 7-6 (1).
“I think he played a fantastic match. I'm happy to be through in three sets. The match definitely wasn't easy. I'm happy not to have played another five-setter. I think it's going to be important for me during the course of this tournament," Zverev said after beating Safiullin, per the ATP website.
Zverev prevented Safiullin from making a major upset
Zverev was putting pressure on Safiullin early on but the Russian saved a break point in the first and third game. Zverev claimed the first break of the match in the 11th game but then failed to serve out for the opener in the following game.
However, Zverev kept his focus as he realized his first set point in the tie-break to win a tight opener. Safiullin broke Zverev early in the second set as he led 3-1 after the opening five games but then the German earned back-to-back breaks to win five games in a row -- overturn the deficit -- and win the set.
Safiullin was also up by a break in the third set but Zverev broke back in the seventh game to eventually force a tie-break. Safiullin won the opening point of the tie-break but then Zverev won seven consecutive points to win the tie-break and book a straight-set win.
“Obviously, I don't do it on purpose,” Zverev said about trailing in both the second and third sets, “I don't go into the match and say, ‘Okay, my tactic is I'm going to be a break down, I'm going to fight back and come back.’ That's not how it works.
I'm a break down most of the time because I play unfocused games or the opponent plays well”. Zverev will be fighting against Serb Laslo Djere for a place in the French Open round-of-16.